, Volume 104, Issue 1–3, pp 121–132 | Cite as

Autotrophic and heterotrophic soil respiration in a Norway spruce forest: estimating the root decomposition and soil moisture effects in a trenching experiment



The two components of soil respiration, autotrophic respiration (from roots, mycorrhizal hyphae and associated microbes) and heterotrophic respiration (from decomposers), was separated in a root trenching experiment in a Norway spruce forest. In June 2003, cylinders (29.7 cm diameter) were inserted to 50 cm soil depth and respiration was measured both outside (control) and inside the trenched areas. The potential problems associated with the trenching treatment, increased decomposition of roots and ectomycorrhizal mycelia and changed soil moisture conditions, were handled by empirical modelling. The model was calibrated with respiration, moisture and temperature data of 2004 from the trenched plots as a training set. We estimate that over the first 5 months after the trenching, 45% of respiration from the trenched plots was an artefact of the treatment. Of this, 29% was a water difference effect and 16% resulted from root and mycelia decomposition. Autotrophic and heterotrophic respiration contributed to about 50% each of total soil respiration in the control plots averaged over the two growing seasons. We show that the potential problems with the trenching, decomposing roots and mycelia and soil moisture effects, can be handled by a modelling approach, which is an alternative to the sequential root harvesting technique.


Soil moisture Picea abies PLS Root respiration Root decomposition Soil temperature 



This study was financially supported by the Swedish National Energy Administration (STEM), the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SNV), the Swedish Research council (VR), the Swedish Research council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas) and by the Swedish Research Council for Forestry and Agriculture. We thank Anders Holm for practical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EcologySwedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)UppsalaSweden
  2. 2.School of Science and TechnologyÖrebro UniversityÖrebroSweden

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