Articles | Volume 7, issue 7
Biogeosciences, 7, 2147–2157, 2010
Biogeosciences, 7, 2147–2157, 2010

  09 Jul 2010

09 Jul 2010

Soil respiration at mean annual temperature predicts annual total across vegetation types and biomes

M. Bahn1, M. Reichstein2, E. A. Davidson3, J. Grünzweig4, M. Jung2, M. S. Carbone5, D. Epron6, L. Misson7,†, Y. Nouvellon8,9, O. Roupsard8,10, K. Savage3, S. E. Trumbore2, C. Gimeno11, J. Curiel Yuste12, J. Tang13, R. Vargas14, and I. A. Janssens15 M. Bahn et al.
  • 1Institute of Ecology, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 2Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
  • 3The Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, Massachusetts, USA
  • 4Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Rehovot, Israel
  • 5Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA
  • 6Nancy Université, Université Henri Poincaré, Vandoeuvre les Nancy, France
  • 7CNRS, Montpellier, France
  • 8CIRAD, Montpellier, France
  • 9CRDPI, Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo
  • 10CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica
  • 11CEAM, Paterna, Valencia, Spain
  • 12CREAF, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain
  • 13The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA
  • 14Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management (ESPM), University of California, Berkeley, California, USA
  • 15Department of Biology, University Instelling Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium
  • This article is dedicated to Laurent Misson, who died in a tragic accident in March 2010.

Abstract. Soil respiration (SR) constitutes the largest flux of CO2 from terrestrial ecosystems to the atmosphere. However, there still exist considerable uncertainties as to its actual magnitude, as well as its spatial and interannual variability. Based on a reanalysis and synthesis of 80 site-years for 57 forests, plantations, savannas, shrublands and grasslands from boreal to tropical climates we present evidence that total annual SR is closely related to SR at mean annual soil temperature (SRMAT), irrespective of the type of ecosystem and biome. This is theoretically expected for non water-limited ecosystems within most of the globally occurring range of annual temperature variability and sensitivity (Q10). We further show that for seasonally dry sites where annual precipitation (P) is lower than potential evapotranspiration (PET), annual SR can be predicted from wet season SRMAT corrected for a factor related to P/PET. Our finding indicates that it can be sufficient to measure SRMAT for obtaining a well constrained estimate of its annual total. This should substantially increase our capacity for assessing the spatial distribution of soil CO2 emissions across ecosystems, landscapes and regions, and thereby contribute to improving the spatial resolution of a major component of the global carbon cycle.

Final-revised paper