Temperature sensitivity increases with decreasing soil carbon quality in forest ecosystems across northeast China

  • Hongru Sun
  • Guangsheng Zhou
  • Zhenzhu Xu
  • Yuhui Wang
  • Xiaodi Liu
  • Hongying Yu
  • Quanhui Ma
  • Bingrui JiaEmail author


Soil respiration universally exhibits exponential temperature dependence (Respiration = R0 eβT & Q10 = e10β), and temperature sensitivity (Q10) and soil organic carbon quality (as expressed by basal respiration rate at 0 °C, R0) are the key parameters. Despite their importance for predicting the responses of forest ecosystems to climate change and quantifying the magnitude of soil CO2 efflux, the controlling factors of temperature sensitivity and soil carbon quality and their relationships among various forest types at a regional scale are as yet unknown. Here, we present a comprehensive analysis of Q10, R0, and their related variables by assembling 154 independent temperature–respiration functions under a common standard in forest ecosystems across northeast China (41°51′–51°24′ N, 118°37′–129°48′ E). The R0 values ranged from 0.1700 to 2.1194 μmol m−2 s−1 (mean = 0.8357 μmol m−2 s−1), and the Q10 values from 1.29 to 5.42 (mean = 2.72). The relationships between Q10 and R0 could be best expressed with exponential decay equations (R2 = 0.460–0.611, P < 0.01). They indicated that the temperature sensitivity decreased with increasing the soil carbon quality, and then tended to level off when the R0 values were larger than ~1 μmol m−2 s−1. Soil carbon quality (R0) was closely related with the minimum soil temperature and its corresponding soil respiration rate during the growing season (R2 = 0.696–0.857, P < 0.01). Such a synthesis is necessary to fully understand the spatial heterogeneity in the temperature sensitivity of soil respiration and to increase our ability to make robust predictions about the future carbon budget.


Soil respiration Q10 Basal respiration Carbon quality-temperature hypothesis Forest ecosystem China 



We are grateful to the scientists who contributed their work to our database. The two anonymous reviewers are appreciated for the helpful comments and suggestions.

Funding information

This study was funded by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFC0503906; 2018YFA0606103).

Supplementary material

10584_2019_2650_MOESM1_ESM.docx (82 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 81 kb)


  1. Bond-Lamberty B, Bailey VL, Chen M, Gough CM, Vargas R (2018) Globally rising soil heterotrophic respiration over recent decades. Nature 560:80–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bosatta E, Ågren GI (1999) Soil organic matter quality interpreted thermodynamically. Soil Biol Biochem 31:1889–1891CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burda BU, O'Connor EA, Webber EM, Redmond N, Perdue LA (2017) Estimating data from figures with a Web-based program: Considerations for a systematic review. Res Synth Methods 8:258–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chen GS, Yang YS, Lv PP, Zhang YL, Qian XL (2008) Regional patterns of soil respiration in China’s forests. Acta Ecol Sin 28(4):1748–1761Google Scholar
  5. Chen H, Tian HQ (2005) Does a general temperature-dependent Q10 model of soil respiration exist at biome and global scale? J Integr Plant Biol 47:1288–1302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Conant RT, Drijber RA, Haddix ML, Parton WJ, Paul E, Plante AF, Six J, Steinweg JM (2008) Sensitivity of organic matter decomposition to warming varies with its quality. Glob Chang Biol 14:868–877CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Conant RT, Ryan MG, Ågren GI, Birge HE, Bradford MA, Davidson EA, Eliasson PE, Evans S, Frey SD, Giardina CP et al (2011) Temperature and soil organic matter decomposition rates-synthesis of current knowledge and a way forward. Glob Chang Biol 17:3392–3404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cox PM, Betts RA, Jones CD, Spall SA, Totterdell IJ (2000) Acceleration of global warming due to carbon-cycle feedbacks in a coupled climate model. Nature 408:184–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crowther TW, Todd-Brown KEO, Rowe CW, Wieder WR, Carey JC, Machmuller MB, Snoek BL, Fang S, Zhou G, Allison SD et al (2016) Quantifying global soil carbon losses in response to warming. Nature 540:104–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davidson EA, Janssens IA (2006) Temperature sensitivity of soil carbon decomposition and feedbacks to climate change. Nature 440:165–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Davidson EA, Janssens IA, Luo YQ (2006) On the variability of respiration in terrestrial ecosystems: moving beyond Q10. Glob Chang Biol 12:154–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fang C, Smith P, Moncrieff JB, Smith JU (2005) Similar response of labile and resistant soil organic matter pools to changes in temperature. Nature 433:57–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fierer N, Craine JM, McLauchlan K, Schimel JP (2005) Litter quality and the temperature sensitivity of decomposition. Ecology 86:320–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Friedlingstein P, Cox P, Betts R, Bopp L, Von Bloh W, Brovkin V, Cadule P, Doney S, Eby M, Fung I, Bala G, John J, Jones C, Joos F, Kato T, Kawamiya M, Knorr W, Lindsay K, Matthews HD, Raddatz T, Rayner P, Reick C, Roeckner E, Schnitzler KG, Schnur R, Strassmann K, Weaver AJ, Yoshikawa C, Zeng N (2006) Climate-carbon cycle feedback analysis: Results from the C4MIP model intercomparison. J Clim 19:3337–3353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hashimoto S (2005) Q10 values of soil respiration in Japanese forests. J For Res 10:409–413CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. He N, Yu G (2016) Stoichiometrical regulation of soil organic matter decomposition and its temperature sensitivity. Ecol Evol 6:620–627CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hicks Pries CE, Castanha C, Porras R, Torn MS (2017) The whole-soil carbon flux in response to warming. Science 355:1420–1423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hopkins FM, Torn MS, Trumbore SE (2012) Warming accelerates decomposition of decades-old carbon in forest soils. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109:10152–10153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Inglett KS, Inglett PW, Reddy KR, Osborne TZ (2012) Temperature sensitivity of greenhouse gas production in wetland soils of different vegetation. Biogeochemistry 108:77–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jones CD, Cox P, Huntingford C (2003) Uncertainty in climate-carbon-cycle projections associated with the sensitivity of soil respiration to temperature. Tellus Ser B-Chem Phys Meteorol 55B:642–648Google Scholar
  21. Karhu K, Fritze H, Hämäläinen K, Vanhala P, Jungner H, Oinonen M, Sonninen E, Tuomi M, Spetz P, Kitunen V, Liski J (2010) Temperature sensitivity of soil carbon fractions in boreal forest soil. Ecology 91:370–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Knorr W, Prentice IC, House JI, Hollod EA (2005) Long-term sensitivity of soil carbon turnover to warming. Nature 433:298–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Le Quéré C, Andrew RM, Friedlingstein P, Sitch S, Hauck J, Pongratz J, Pickers PA, Korsbakken JI, Peters GP, Canadell JG et al (2018) Global Carbon Budget 2018. Earth Syst Sci Data 10:2141–2194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Leifeld J, Fuhrer J (2005) The temperature response of CO2 production from bulk soils and soil fractions is related to soil organic matter quality. Biogeochemistry 75:433–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Liu L, Wang H, Dai W, Lei X, Yang X, Li X (2014) Spatial variability of soil organic carbon in the forestlands of northeast china. J For Res 25:867–876CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Luan J, Liu S, Wang J, Chang SX, Liu X, Lu H, Wang Y (2018) Tree species diversity promotes soil carbon stability by depressing the temperature sensitivity of soil respiration in temperate forests. Sci Total Environ 645:623–629CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Luan J, Liu S, Zhu X, Wang J (2011) Soil carbon stocks and fluxes in a warm-temperate oak chronosequence in China. Plant Soil 347:243–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Malcolm GM, López-Gutiérrez JC, Koide RT (2009) Temperature sensitivity of respiration differs among forest floor layers in a Pinus resinosa plantation. Soil Biol Biochem 41:1075–1079CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Melillo JM, Frey SD, DeAngelis KM, Werner WJ, Bernard MJ, Bowles FP, Pold G, Knorr MA, Grandy AS (2017) Long-term pattern and magnitude of soil carbon feedback to the climate system in a warming world. Science 358:101–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mikan CJ, Schimel JP, Doyle AP (2002) Temperature controls of microbial respiration in arctic tundra soils above and below freezing. Soil Biol Biochem 34:1785–1795CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Peng S, Piao S, Wang T, Sun J, Shen Z (2009) Temperature sensitivity of soil respiration in different ecosystems in China. Soil Biol Biochem 41:1008–1014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Prietzel J, Zimmermann L, Schubert A, Christophel D (2016) Organic matter losses in German Alps forest soils since the 1970s most likely caused by warming. Nat Geosci 9:543–548CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Raich JW, Potter CS, Bhagawati D (2002) Interannual variability in global soil respiration, 1980–94. Glob Chang Biol 8:800–812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sampson DA, Janssens IA, Curiel Yuste J, Ceulemans R (2007) Basal rates of soil respiration are correlated with photosynthesis in a mixed temperate forest. Glob Chang Biol 13:2008–2017CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Schlesinger WH, Andrews JA (2000) Soil respiration and the global carbon cycle. Biogeochemistry 48:7–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schuur EAG, McGuire AD, Schädel C, Grosse G, Harden JW, Hayes DJ, Hugelius G, Koven CD, Kuhry P, Lawrence DM, Natali SM, Olefeldt D, Romanovsky VE, Schaefer K, Turetsky MR, Treat CC, Vonk JE (2015) Climate change and the permafrost carbon feedback. Nature 520:171–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Song X, Peng C, Zhao Z, Zhang Z, Guo B, Wang W, Jiang H, Zhu Q (2014) Quantification of soil respiration in forest ecosystems across China. Atmos Environ 94:546–551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Townsend AR, Vitousek PM, Holland EA (1992) Tropical soils could dominate the short-term carbon cycle feedbacks to increased global temperatures. Clim Chang 22:293–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Van’t Hoff JH (1899) Lectures on theoretical and physical chemistry. Part I. Chemical dynamics. Edward Arnold, London, pp 224–229Google Scholar
  40. Vaughn LJS, Torn MS (2018) Radiocarbon measurements of ecosystem respiration and soil pore-space CO2 in Utqiaġvik (Barrow), Alaska. Earth Syst Sci Data 10:1943–1957CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wang CK (2006) Biomass allometric equations for 10 co-occurring tree species in Chinese temperate forests. For Ecol Manag 222:9–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wang W, Chen W, Wang S (2010a) Forest soil respiration and its heterotrophic and autotrophic components: Global patterns and responses to temperature and precipitation. Soil Biol Biochem 42:1236–1244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wang X, Piao S, Ciais P, Janssens IA, Reichstein M, Peng S, Wang T (2010b) Are ecological gradients in seasonal Q10 of soil respiration explained by climate or by vegetation seasonality? Soil Biol Biochem 42:1728–1734CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wang XY, Zhao CY, Jia QY (2013) Impacts of climate change on forest ecosystems in Northeast China. Adv Clim Chang Res 4:230–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Xu M, Qi Y (2001) Spatial and seasonal variations of Q10 determined by soil respiration measurements at a Sierra Nevadan forest. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 15:687–696CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Xu X, Luo Y, Zhou J (2012) Carbon quality and the temperature sensitivity of soil organic carbon decomposition in a tallgrass prairie. Soil Biol Biochem 50:142–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Xu Z, Tang S, Xiong L, Yang W, Yin H, Tu L, Wu F, Chen L, Tan B (2015) Temperature sensitivity of soil respiration in China's forest ecosystems: Patterns and controls. Appl Soil Ecol 93:105–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Yang Y, Li P, Ding J, Zhao X, Ma W, Ji C, Fang J (2014) Increased topsoil carbon stock across china's forests. Glob Chang Biol 20:2687–2696CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Yuan W, Luo Y, Li X, Li X, Liu S, Yu G, Zhou T, Bahn M, Black A, Desai AR et al (2011) Redefinition and global estimation of basal ecosystem respiration rate. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 25:GB4002. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Yuste JC, Janssens IA, Carrara A, Ceulemans R (2004) Annual Q10 of soil respiration reflects plant phenological patterns as well as temperature sensitivity. Glob Chang Biol 10:161–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zheng ZM, Yu GR, Fu YL, Wang YS, Sun XM, Wang YH (2009) Temperature sensitivity of soil respiration is affected by prevailing climatic conditions and soil organic carbon content: A trans-China based case study. Soil Biol Biochem 41:1531–1540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zheng ZM, Yu GR, Sun XM, Li SG, Wang YS, Wang YH, Fu YL, Wang QF (2010) Spatio-temporal variability of soil respiration of forest ecosystems in China: Influencing factors and evaluation model. Environ Manag 46:633–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zhou T, Shi PJ, Hui DF, Luo YQ (2009) Spatial patterns in temperature sensitivity of soil respiration in China: Estimation with inverse modeling. Sci China Ser C 52:982–989CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of BotanyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Chinese Academy of Meteorological SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations