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Title: The magnitude and variability of soil-surface CO2 efflux increase with temperature in Hawaiian tropical montane wet forests

Author: Litton, Creighton M.; Giardina, Christian P.; Albano, Jeremy K.; Long, Michael S.; Asner, Gregory P.

Date: 2011

Source: Soil Biology and Biochemistry 43(11):2315-2323

Publication Series: Journal/Magazine Article (JRNL)

Description: Soil-surface CO2 efflux (FS; ‘soil respiration’) accounts for ≥ 50% of the CO2 released annually by the terrestrial biosphere to the atmosphere, and the magnitude and variability of this flux are likely to be sensitive to climate change. We measured FS in nine permanent plots along a 5.2°C mean annual temperature (MAT) gradient (13-18.2°C) in Hawaiian tropical montane wet forests where substrate type and age, soil type, soil water balance, disturbance history, and canopy vegetation are constant. The objectives of this study were to quantify how the (i) magnitude, (ii) plot-level spatial variability, and (iii) plot-level diel variability of FS vary with MAT. To address the first objective, annual FS budgets were constructed by measuring instantaneous FS monthly in all plots for one year. For the second objective, we compared plot-level mean instantaneous FS in six plots derived from 8 versus 16 measurements, and conducted a power analysis to determine adequate sample sizes. For the third objective, we measured instantaneous FS hourly for 24 h in three plots (cool, intermediate and warm MATs). The magnitude of annual FS and the spatial variability of plot-level instantaneous FS increased linearly with MAT, likely due to concomitant increases in stand productivity. Mean plot-level instantaneous FS from 8 versus 16 measurements per plot yielded statistically similar patterns. The number of samples required to estimate plot-level instantaneous FS within 10% and 20% of the actual mean increased with MAT. In two of three plots examined, diel variability in instantaneous FS was significantly correlated with soil temperature but minimal diel fluctuations in soil temperature (<0.6°C) resulted in minimal diel variability in FS. Our results suggest that as MAT increases in tropical montane wet forests, FS will increase and become more spatially variable if ecosystem characteristics and functioning undergo concurrent changes as measured along this gradient. However, diel variation in FS will remain a minor component of overall plot-level variation.

Keywords: Hawaii, mean annual temperature (MAT), soil respiration, spatial and diel variability, tropical montane wet forests

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Litton, Creighton M.; Giardina, Christian P.; Albano, Jeremy K.; Long, Michael S.; Asner, Gregory P. 2011. The magnitude and variability of soil-surface CO2 efflux increase with temperature in Hawaiian tropical montane wet forests. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 43(11):2315-2323.

 


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