Articles | Volume 11, issue 11
Biogeosciences, 11, 2991–3013, 2014

Special issue: Climate extremes and biogeochemical cycles in the terrestrial...

Biogeosciences, 11, 2991–3013, 2014
Research article
06 Jun 2014
Research article | 06 Jun 2014

Can current moisture responses predict soil CO2 efflux under altered precipitation regimes? A synthesis of manipulation experiments

S. Vicca1, M. Bahn2, M. Estiarte3,4, E. E. van Loon5, R. Vargas6, G. Alberti7,8, P. Ambus9, M. A. Arain10, C. Beier9,11, L. P. Bentley12, W. Borken13, N. Buchmann14, S. L. Collins15, G. de Dato16, J. S. Dukes17,18,19, C. Escolar20, P. Fay21, G. Guidolotti16, P. J. Hanson22, A. Kahmen23, G. Kröel-Dulay24, T. Ladreiter-Knauss2, K. S. Larsen9, E. Lellei-Kovacs24, E. Lebrija-Trejos25, F. T. Maestre20, S. Marhan26, M. Marshall27, P. Meir28,29, Y. Miao30, J. Muhr31, P. A. Niklaus32, R. Ogaya3,4, J. Peñuelas3,4, C. Poll26, L. E. Rustad33, K. Savage34, A. Schindlbacher35, I. K. Schmidt36, A. R. Smith27,37, E. D. Sotta38, V. Suseela17,39, A. Tietema5, N. van Gestel40, O. van Straaten41, S. Wan30, U. Weber42, and I. A. Janssens1 S. Vicca et al.
  • 1Research Group of Plant and Vegetation Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Wilrijk, Belgium
  • 2Institute of Ecology, University of Innsbruck, Sternwartestr. 15, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  • 3CSIC, Global Ecology Unit, CREAF-CEAB-UAB, Cerdanyola del Vallés 08913, Catalonia, Spain
  • 4CREAF, Cerdanyola del Vallés 08193, Catalonia, Spain
  • 5Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 6Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Delaware Environmental Institute, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA
  • 7University of Udine, via delle Scienze 206, Udine, Italy
  • 8MOUNTFOR Project Centre, European Forest Institute, Via E. Mach 1, San Michele all'Adige (Trento), Italy
  • 9Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
  • 10McMaster Center for Climate Change and School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • 11NIVA – Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Gaustadalléen 21, 0349 Oslo, Norway
  • 12Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA
  • 13Soil Ecology, University Bayreuth, Dr.-Hans-Frisch-Str. 1–3, 95448 Bayreuth, Germany
  • 14Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 15Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA
  • 16Department for Innovation in Biological, Agro-food and Forest systems, University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy
  • 17Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, 715 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2061, USA
  • 18Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA 02125, USA
  • 19Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
  • 20Área de Biodiversidad y Conservación, Departamento de Biología y Geología, Escuela Superior de Ciencias Experimentales y Tecnología, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, C/Tulipán s/n, 28933 Móstoles, Spain
  • 21USDA ARS Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory, Temple, TX 76502, USA
  • 22Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA
  • 23Institute of Agricultural Sciences, ETH Zurich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
  • 24MTA Centre for Ecological Research, 2–4, Alkotmany u., 2163-Vácrátót, Hungary
  • 25Department of Molecular Biology and Ecology of Plants, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
  • 26Institute of Soil Science and Land Evaluation, Soil Biology, University of Hohenheim, Emil-Wolff-Str. 27, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany
  • 27Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Environment Centre Wales, Deiniol Road, Bangor LL57 2UW, UK
  • 28School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  • 29Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  • 30State Key Laboratory of Cotton Biology, College of Life Sciences, Henan University, Kaifeng, Henan 475004, China
  • 31Max Planck Institute of Biogeochemistry, Department of Biogeochemical Processes, 07701 Jena, Germany
  • 32Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zürich, Switzerland
  • 33USFS Northern Research Station, 271 Mast Road, Durham, NH 03824, USA
  • 34The Woods Hole Research Center, 149 Woods Hole Rd, Falmouth, MA 02540, USA
  • 35Department of Forest Ecology, Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape – BFW, A-1131 Vienna, Austria
  • 36Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Copenhagen University, Denmark
  • 37School of the Environment, Natural Resources, and Geography, Bangor University, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK
  • 38Embrapa Amapá Caixa Postal 10, CEP 68906-970, Macapá AP, Brazil
  • 39School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634, USA
  • 40Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA
  • 41Buesgen Institute, Soil Science of Tropical and Subtropical Ecosystems, Georg-August- University of Goettingen, Buesgenweg 2, 37077 Goettingen, Germany
  • 42Department of Biogeochemical Integration (BGI), Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Hans-Knöll-Str. 10, 07745 Jena, Germany

Abstract. As a key component of the carbon cycle, soil CO2 efflux (SCE) is being increasingly studied to improve our mechanistic understanding of this important carbon flux. Predicting ecosystem responses to climate change often depends on extrapolation of current relationships between ecosystem processes and their climatic drivers to conditions not yet experienced by the ecosystem. This raises the question of to what extent these relationships remain unaltered beyond the current climatic window for which observations are available to constrain the relationships. Here, we evaluate whether current responses of SCE to fluctuations in soil temperature and soil water content can be used to predict SCE under altered rainfall patterns. Of the 58 experiments for which we gathered SCE data, 20 were discarded because either too few data were available or inconsistencies precluded their incorporation in the analyses. The 38 remaining experiments were used to test the hypothesis that a model parameterized with data from the control plots (using soil temperature and water content as predictor variables) could adequately predict SCE measured in the manipulated treatment. Only for 7 of these 38 experiments was this hypothesis rejected. Importantly, these were the experiments with the most reliable data sets, i.e., those providing high-frequency measurements of SCE. Regression tree analysis demonstrated that our hypothesis could be rejected only for experiments with measurement intervals of less than 11 days, and was not rejected for any of the 24 experiments with larger measurement intervals. This highlights the importance of high-frequency measurements when studying effects of altered precipitation on SCE, probably because infrequent measurement schemes have insufficient capacity to detect shifts in the climate dependencies of SCE. Hence, the most justified answer to the question of whether current moisture responses of SCE can be extrapolated to predict SCE under altered precipitation regimes is "no" – as based on the most reliable data sets available. We strongly recommend that future experiments focus more strongly on establishing response functions across a broader range of precipitation regimes and soil moisture conditions. Such experiments should make accurate measurements of water availability, should conduct high-frequency SCE measurements, and should consider both instantaneous responses and the potential legacy effects of climate extremes. This is important, because with the novel approach presented here, we demonstrated that, at least for some ecosystems, current moisture responses could not be extrapolated to predict SCE under altered rainfall conditions.

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