Articles commonly state examples of carbon sinks are plants, soils, and oceans (e.g., link). My understanding is that carbon sinks must directly take up carbon from the atmosphere. Therefore, other organisms such as herbivores and carnivores are not considered carbon sinks (I understand their roles as carbon sources) although they store much carbon. Is this interpretation true?
If so, what is the main mechanism that soils (independent of plants) directly absorb carbon from the atmosphere? It looks as if most articles simply say that soils contain much carbon from plant organic matters, which is a carbon store rather than a carbon sink.