Skip to main content Accessibility help

Relationship Between Climate and Vegetation and the Stable Carbon Isotope Chemistry of Soils in the Eastern Mojave Desert, Nevada

  • Ronald G. Amundson (a1), Oliver A. Chadwick (a1), Janet M. Sowers (a2) and Harvey E. Doner (a1)


The relationship between the stable C-isotope composition of the soil environment and modern climate and vegetation was determined empirically along a present-day climatic transect in the eastern Mojave Desert. The δ13C of the soil CO2 and carbonates decreased with increasing elevation and plant density, even though plant assemblages at all elevations were isotopically similar. Several factors, including differences in the ratios of pedogenic of limestone calcite and differences in past vegetation, were considered as explanations of this trend, However, it appears that in the sparsely vegetated Mojave Desert, the δ13C of pedogenic carbonate is controlled by differences in plant density and biological activity. This relationship may provide a tool for assessing past vegetational densities, as long as the vegetation is isotopically homogeneous.



Hide All
1971 Bender, M.M., Variations in the 13aC/12C ratios of plants in relation to the pathway of photosynthetic carbon dioxide fixation. Phytochemistry. 10 12391244.
1968 Bottinga, Y., Calculation of fractionation factors for carbon and oxygen exchange in the system calcite-carbon dioxide-water. Journal of Physical Chemistry. 72 800808.
1967 Bradley, W.G., Deacon, J.E., The biotic communities of southern Nevada. Wormington, H.M., Ellis, D., Pleistocene Studies in Southern Nevada. Nevada State Museum Anthropology Papers 13. 201295.
1985 Branson, F.A., Vegetational changes in western rangelands. Society Range Management Monograph 2. .
1984 Cerling, T.E., The stable isotopic composition of soil carbonate and its relationship to climate. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 71 229240.
1986 Cerling, T.E., Hay, R.L., An isotopic study of paleosol carbonates from Olduvai Gorge. Quaternary Research. 25 6378.
1977 Cerling, T.E., Hay, R.L., O'Neil, J.R., Isotopic evidence for dramatic climatic changes in East Africa during the Pleistocene. Nature (London). 267 137138.
1957 Craig, H., Isotopic standards for carbon and oxygen and correction factors for mass spectrometric analysis of carbon dioxide. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 12 133149.
1974 de Jong, E., Schappert, H.J.V., MacDonald, K.B., Carbon dioxide evolution from virgin and cultivated soil as affected by management practices and climate. Canadian Journal of Soil Science. 54 299307.
1975 Johnson, H.B., Gas exchange strategies in desert plants. Gates, D.M., Schmerl, R.B., Perspectives in Biophysical Ecology. Springer-Verlag, New York, 105120.
1986 Leavitt, S.W., Long, A., Stable carbon isotope variability in tree foliage and wood. Ecology. 67 10021010.
1986 Linick, T.W., Jull, A.J.T., Toolin, L.J., Donahue, D.J., Operation of the NSF-Arizona accelerator facility for radioisotope analysis and results from selected collaborative research projects. Radiocarbon. 28 522533.
1977 Mulroy, T.W., Rundel, P.W., Annual plants: Adaptations to desert environments. Bioscience. 27 109114.
1985 NOAA, , Climatological Data, Nevada. National Climatic Data Center, Natl. Ocean. Atm. Admin, 100(13).
1983 Parker, L.W., Miller, J., Steinberger, Y., Whitford, W.G., Soil respiration in a Chihuahuan desert rangeland. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 15 303309.
1959 Phillips, E.A., Methods of Vegetation Study. Holt, Winston, NY.
1986 Quade, E.A., Later Quaternary environmental changes in the upper Las Vegas Valley, Nevada. Quaternary Research. 26 340357.
1986 Sowers, J.M., Geomorphic map of the Kyle Canyon alluvial fan, southern Nevada. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report. 86210.
1984 Smith, S.D., Hartsock, T.L., Nobel, P.S., Ecophysiology of Yucca brevifolia, an arborescent monocot of the Mojave Desert. Oecologia. 60 1017.
1985 Spaulding, W.G., Vegetation and climates of the last 45,000 years in the vicinity of the Nevada Test Site, south-central Nevada. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1329. .
1983 Talma, A.S., Netterberg, F., Stable isotope abundances in calcretes. Wilson, R.C.L., Residual Deposits: Surface Related Weathering Processes and Materials. Geological Society of London, 221233.
1974 Troughton, J.H., Card, K.A., Hendy, C.H., Photosynthetic pathways and carbon isotope discrimination by plants. Carnegie Institute of Washington Yearbook 73. .
1970 Welkie, G.W., Caldwell, M., Leaf anatomy of species in some dicotyledon families as related to the C3 and C4 pathways of carbon fixation. Canadian Journal of Botany. 48 21352146.
1966 Whitkamp, M., Rates of carbon dioxide evolution from the forest floor. Ecology. 47 492494.
1976 Young, J.A., Evans, R.A., Tueller, P.T., Great Basin plant communities: Pristine and grazed. Elston, R., Headrick, P., Holocene Environmental Change in the Great Basin. Nevada Archeological Research Paper No. 6. University of Nevada, Reno, 187216.

Relationship Between Climate and Vegetation and the Stable Carbon Isotope Chemistry of Soils in the Eastern Mojave Desert, Nevada

  • Ronald G. Amundson (a1), Oliver A. Chadwick (a1), Janet M. Sowers (a2) and Harvey E. Doner (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed