Title: Temperature Sensitivity of the Turnover Times of Soil Organic Matter in Forests
Citation: ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS vol. 18 no. 1 p. 119-131
Publication Year: 2008
JRC N°: JRC40208
ISSN: 1051-0761
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC40208
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Soils represent the largest carbon pool in the terrestrial biosphere, and climate change might affect the main carbon fluxes associated with this pool. These fluxes are the production of aboveground litter and root litter, and decomposition of the soil organic matter (SOM) pool by soil microorganisms. Knowledge about the temperature sensitivity of the decomposition of different SOM fractions is crucial in order to understand how climate change might affect carbon storage in soils. In this study, the temperature sensitivity of the turnover times of three different SOM fractions (labile, intermediate, and stabilized) was investigated for 11 forest sites along a temperature gradient. Carbon-14 isotope analyses of the SOM fractions combined with a model provided estimates of their turnover times. The turnover times of the labile SOM fraction were not correlated with mean annual soil temperature. Therefore it was not possible to estimate temperature sensitivity for the labile SOM fraction. Given considerable evidence elsewhere for significant temperature sensitivities of labile SOM, lack of temperature sensitivity here most likely indicates limitations of the applied methodology for the labile SOM fraction. The turnover times of the intermediate and the stabilized SOM fractions were both correlated with mean annual soil temperatures. The temperature sensitivity of the stabilized SOM fraction was at least equal to that of the intermediate SOM fraction and possibly more than twice as high. A correction for confounding effects of soil acidity and clay content on the temperature sensitivities of the intermediate and stabilized SOM fractions was included in the analysis. The results as observed here for the three SOM fractions may have been influenced by (1) modeling assumptions for the estimation of SOM turnover times of leaf and needle longevities, constant annual carbon inputs, and steady-state SOM pools, (2) the occurrence of summer drought at some sites, (3) differences between sites in quality of the SOM fractions, or (4) the relatively small temperature range. Our results suggested that a 18C increase in temperature could lead to decreases in turnove
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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