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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 15, issue 17 | Copyright
Biogeosciences, 15, 5329-5341, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 03 Sep 2018

Research article | 03 Sep 2018

Patterns of soil respiration and its temperature sensitivity in grassland ecosystems across China

Jiguang Feng1, Jingsheng Wang2, Yanjun Song3, and Biao Zhu1 Jiguang Feng et al.
  • 1Institute of Ecology, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of the Ministry of Education, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • 2Qianyanzhou Ecological Research Station, Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • 3Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group, Wageningen University and Research Centre, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands

Abstract. Soil respiration (Rs), a key process in the terrestrial carbon cycle, is very sensitive to climate change. In this study, we synthesized 54 measurements of annual Rs and 171 estimates of Q10 value (the temperature sensitivity of soil respiration) in grasslands across China. We quantitatively analyzed their spatial patterns and controlling factors in five grassland types, including temperate typical steppe, temperate meadow steppe, temperate desert steppe, alpine grassland, and warm, tropical grassland. Results showed that the mean (±SE) annual Rs was 582.0±57.9gCm−2yr−1 across Chinese grasslands. Annual Rs significantly differed among grassland types, and was positively correlated with mean annual temperature, mean annual precipitation, soil temperature, soil moisture, soil organic carbon content, and aboveground biomass, but negatively correlated with soil pH (p < 0.05). Among these factors, mean annual precipitation was the primary factor controlling the variation of annual Rs among grassland types. Based on the overall data across Chinese grasslands, the Q10 values ranged from 1.03 to 8.13, with a mean (±SE) of 2.60±0.08. Moreover, the Q10 values varied largely within and among grassland types and soil temperature measurement depths. Among grassland types, the highest Q10 derived by soil temperature at a depth of 5cm occurred in alpine grasslands. In addition, the seasonal variation of soil respiration in Chinese grasslands generally cannot be explained well by soil temperature using the van't Hoff equation. Overall, our findings suggest that the combined factors of soil temperature and moisture would better predict soil respiration in arid and semi-arid regions, highlight the importance of precipitation in controlling soil respiration in grasslands, and imply that alpine grasslands in China might release more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere under climate warming.

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