Soil respiration in Tibetan alpine grasslands: Belowground biomass and soil moisture, but not soil temperature, best explain the large-scale patterns

The Tibetan Plateau is an essential area to study the potential feedback effects of soils to climate change due to the rapid rise in its air temperature in the past several decades and the large amounts of soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks, particularly in the permafrost. Yet it is one of the most under-investigated regions in soil respiration (Rs) studies. Here, Rs rates were measured at 42 sites in alpine grasslands (including alpine steppes and meadows) along a transect across the Tibetan Plateau during the peak growing season of 2006 and 2007 in order to test whether: (1) belowground biomass (BGB) is most closely related to spatial variation in Rs due to high root biomass density, and (2) soil temperature significantly influences spatial pattern of Rs owing to metabolic limitation from the low temperature in cold, high-altitude ecosystems.

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