Soil properties and presence of plants affect the temperature sensitivity of carbon dioxide production by soils
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Despite abundant literature, the predicted response of soil respiration (R S) to soil temperature (T S) remains uncertain. We aimed to quantify the temperature dependency of soil respired CO2 derived from organic matter (R OM), and investigated the relationship between the R OM responses to temperature, soil properties, and vegetation, using a natural 13C abundance technique. Using pastoral soils of contrasting properties (termed low and high fertility) and by growing C4 or C3 grass species in soils with a different isotope signature, we measured the temperature sensitivity of R OM and R S. In the low fertility soil, with plants, R OM rate was constant at T S ranging 13–27°C but root-derived respiration (R RD) rate increased ~4 times when T S increased from 13 to 27°C. In the high fertility soil, with plants, both R RD and R OM rates doubled as T S increased from 17–27°C. When T S was increased, without plants present, from 13 to 27°C, R OM rates increased ~3 times in both the high and low fertility soils, hence soil properties did not affect the temperature sensitivity of R OM when plants were absent. Our results did not support the idea of a universal nor simple relation between temperature and CO2 production in soils.
KeywordsOrganic matter Soil respiration 13C
This study was funded by and was performed in Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Lincoln, New Zealand. We thank Graeme Rogers, J. Richard Sedcole and Takayoshi Ikeda for their technical support and advice on the statistical analysis.
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