Urban surface soil has a unique set of structures and processes that affect surface soil organic carbon density (SOCdensity) and its spatial variations. Using Beijing as a case study, and assisted by field investigations and experiments, we analyzed the spatial distribution of SOCdensity in different land use types and functional regions, and assessed associated factors such as urbanization level, the physiochemical properties of soil and plant configurations. The present study aims to provide useful information about the mechanisms driving soil organic carbon and climate change in developing and developed areas in urbanized regions like Beijing. Results indicate that P is the main factor positively influencing SOCdensity in most regions. Because of the specific interference directly related to human beings in urban areas, with decreases in the urbanization level, more physiochemical factors of soil can influence SOCdensity. SOCdensity under grasses is not significantly different from that under other plant compositions. Urbanization processes decrease the heterogeneity of the spatial pattern of SOCdensity in most land use types, but increased its contents when the area reached a developed level in Beijing. More factors related to human interference and spatial variation of surface soil carbon storage, especially under impervious land in urban areas, should be considered in future studies.
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