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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Investigating soil carbon diversity by combining the MAXimum ENTropy principle with the Q model

Agren, Goran, I


Soil carbon diversity can be an important property for the stability of soil carbon. A problem is the lack of techniques for measuring this diversity. I suggest here the use of a combination of a general statistical principle, MAXimum ENTropy (MaxEnt), and a mechanistic model of organic matter decomposition, the Q model. The Q model provides the temporal development of the average carbon quality of litter and amount of soil organic C, which can be applied in a MaxEnt calculation to obtain a distribution of soil C over qualities. This distribution may not be the actual distribution but it is the most probable one. This distribution can be used to calculate aggregate properties for the total of soil C. I will use this distribution to calculate the temporal development of the variance in C quality as an expression of C diversity. The general tendency is that the variance declines with time of decomposition. Six long-term bare fallow (LTBF) from different climatic and management conditions were used to investigate which system properties are most important for the temporal development of the variance. The initial quality of the litter forming soil C is the dominant property. Chemical shifts in NMR spectra were tested as a possible way of measuring the variance in C quality.


Functional diversity; Long term bare fallow; NMR; Carbon quality; Bare fallow soils; NMR

Published in

2021, volume: 153, number: 1, pages: 85-94
Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Soil Science

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)