23 Apr 2021

23 Apr 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Organic matter cycling along geochemical, geomorphic and disturbance gradients in forests and cropland of the African Tropics – Project TropSOC Database Version 1.0

Sebastian Doetterl1,2, Rodrigue Asifiwe6, Geert Baert3, Fernando Bamba6, Marijn Bauters3,4, Pascal Boeckx3, Benjamin Bukombe2, Georg Cadisch5, Matt Cooper8, Landry Cizungu6, Alison Hoyt7, Clovis Kabaseke8, Karsten Kalbitz9, Laurent Kidinda9, Annina Maier1, Moritz Mainka2, Julia Mayrock2, Daniel Muhindo6, Basile Mujinya10, Serge Mukotanyi6, Leon Nabahungu12, Mario Reichenbach2, Boris Rewald11, Johan Six1, Anna Stegmann2, Laura Summerauer1, Robin Unseld2, Bernard Vanlauwe12, Kristof Van Oost13, Kris Verheyen13, Cordula Vogel9, Florian Wilken1,2, and Peter Fiener2 Sebastian Doetterl et al.
  • 1Department of Environmental System Sciences, ETH Zurich, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2Institute of Geography, Augsburg University, Augsburg, Germany
  • 3Department of Green Chemistry and Technology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
  • 4Department of Environment Forest & Nature Lab, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
  • 5Institute of Plant Production and Agroecology in the Tropics and Subtropics, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany
  • 6Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Université Catholique de Bukavu, DR Congo
  • 7Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
  • 8School of Agriculture and Environmental sciences, Mountains of the Moon University, Fort Portal, Uganda
  • 9Chair of Soil Resources and Land Use, Institute of Soil Science and Site Ecology, TU Dresden, Germany
  • 10Biogeochemistry and ecology of tropical soils and ecosystems, University of Lubumbashi, DR Congo
  • 11Department of Forest and Soil Sciences, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria
  • 12Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Central Africa and Natural Resource Management, CGIAR, Nairobi, Kenya
  • 13Earth and Life Institute, UCLouvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Abstract. The African Tropics are hotspots of modern-day land-use change and are, at the same time, of great relevance for the cycling of carbon (C) and nutrients between plants, soils and the atmosphere. However, the consequences of land conversion on biogeochemical cycles are still largely unknown as they are not studied in a landscape context that defines the geomorphic, geochemically and pedological framework in which biological processes take place. Thus, the response of tropical soils to disturbance by erosion and land conversion is one of the great uncertainties in assessing the carrying capacity of tropical landscapes to grow food for future generations and in predicting greenhouse gas fluxes (GHG) from soils to the atmosphere and, hence, future earth system dynamics.

Here, we describe version 1.0 of an open access database created as part of the project “Tropical soil organic carbon dynamics along erosional disturbance gradients in relation to variability in soil geochemistry and land use” (TropSOC). TropSOC v1.0 contains spatial and temporal explicit data on soil, vegetation, environmental properties and land management collected from 136 pristine tropical forest and cropland plots between 2017 and 2020 as part of several monitoring and sampling campaigns in the Eastern Congo Basin and the East African Rift Valley System. The results of several laboratory experiments focusing on soil microbial activity, C cycling and C stabilization in soils complement the dataset to deliver one of the first landscape scale datasets to study the linkages and feedbacks between geology, geomorphology and pedogenesis as controls on biogeochemical cycles in a variety of natural and managed systems in the African Tropics.

The hierarchical and interdisciplinary structure of the TropSOC database allows for linking a wide range of parameters and observations on soil and vegetation dynamics along with other supporting information that may also be measured at one or more levels of the hierarchy. TropSOC’s data marks a significant contribution to improve our understanding of the fate of biogeochemical cycles in dynamic and diverse tropical African (agro-)ecosystems. TropSOC v1.0 can be accessed through the supplementary material provided as part of this manuscript or as a separate download via the websites of the Congo Biogeochemistry observatory and the GFZ data repository where version updates to the database will be provided as the project develops.

Sebastian Doetterl et al.

Status: open (until 18 Jun 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Sebastian Doetterl et al.

Data sets

TropSOC Database. V. 1.0 Doetterl, S.; Bukombe, B.; Cooper, M.; Kidinda, L.; Muhindo, D.; Reichenbach, M.; Stegmann, A.; Summerauer, L.; Wilken, F.; Fiener, P.

Sebastian Doetterl et al.


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Short summary
The African Tropics are hotspots of modern-day land-use change and of great relevance for the global carbon cycle. Here, we present data collected as part of the DFG funded project TropSOC along topographic, land use and geochemical gradients in the Eastern Congo Basin and the Albertine Rift. Our database contains spatial and temporal explicit data on soil, vegetation, environmental properties and land management collected from 136 pristine tropical forest and cropland plots between 2017–2020.