Articles | Volume 2, issue 4
11 Nov 2005
11 Nov 2005

Temperature sensitivity of decomposition in relation to soil organic matter pools: critique and outlook

M. Reichstein, T. Kätterer, O. Andrén, P. Ciais, E.-D. Schulze, W. Cramer, D. Papale, and R. Valentini

Abstract. Knorr et al. (2005) concluded that soil organic carbon pools with longer turnover times are more sensitive to temperature. We show that this conclusion is equivocal, largely dependent on their specific selection of data and does not persist when the data set of Kätterer et al. (1998) is analysed in a more appropriate way. Further, we analyse how statistical properties of the model parameters may interfere with correlative analyses that relate the Q10 of soil respiration with the basal rate, where the latter is taken as a proxy for soil organic matter quality. We demonstrate that negative parameter correlations between Q10-values and base respiration rates are statistically expected and not necessarily provide evidence for a higher temperature sensitivity of low quality soil organic matter. Consequently, we propose it is premature to conclude that stable soil carbon is more sensitive to temperature than labile carbon.

Final-revised paper