The dynamics of soil organic carbon (SOC) pools determine potential carbon sequestration and soil nutrient improvement. This study investigated the characteristics of SOC pools in five types of cultivated topsoils (0–15 cm) in subtropical China using laboratory incubation experiments under aerobic conditions. The sizes and turnover rates of the active, slow and resistant C pools were simulated using a first-order kinetic model. The relative influence of soil environmental properties on the dynamics of different SOC pools was evaluated by applying principal component analysis (PCA) and aggregated boosted trees (ABTs) analysis. The results show that there were significantly greater sizes of different SOC pools and lower turnover rates of slow C pool in two types of paddy soils than in upland soils. Land use exerted the most significant influence on the sizes of all SOC pools, followed by clay content and soil pH. The soil C/N ratio and pH were the major determinants for turnover rates of the active and slow C pools, followed by clay content which had more impact on the turnover rates of the active C pool than the slow C pool. It is concluded that soil type exerts a significant impact on the dynamics of SOC.