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Abstract

Soil carbon storage- defined here as carbon mass per unit ground area- is an important ecosystem service, sequestering carbon that might otherwise exist in atmospheric CO2 . Significant attention has focused on the effects that humans have on carbon cycling, but little is known about how human behaviors and attitudes relate to lawn carbon storage. The objectives of this study were to conduct household surveys in concert with soil carbon sampling in a 10-year-old exurban neighborhood near Richmond, Virginia to quantify differences in soil carbon storage between residential lawns and mixed pine-hardwood forest fragments, and to determine how lawn management and environmental attitudes relate to soil carbon storage. Lawns stored significantly less carbon than forest fragments in the top 10 cm of soils. A significant negative relationship was observed between watering and fertilizer frequency and soil carbon storage, but the goodness-of-fit was sensitive to intra-lawn variability in soil carbon mass. Survey respondents that claimed to be environmentalists stored significantly more carbon and spent one hour less per week managing their lawns, suggesting that environmental attitudes may affect how households manage their lawns and, in turn, the quality of soil carbon stored in residential soils.

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