, Volume 80, Issue 3, pp 395-400

A comparison of soil climate and biological activity along an elevation gradient in the eastern Mojave Desert

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Summary

Soil temperature, moisture, and CO2 were monitored at four sites along an elevation transect in the eastern Mojave Desert from January to October, 1987. Climate appeared to be the major factor controlling CO2 partial pressures, primarily through its influence of rates of biological reactions, vegetation densities, and organic matter production. With increasing elevation, and increasing actual evapotranspiration, the organic C, plant density, and the CO2 content of the soils increased. Between January and May, soil CO2 concentrations at a given site were closely related to variations in soil temperature. In July and October, temperatures had little effect on CO2, presumably due to low soil moisture levels. Up to 75% of litter placed in the field in March was lost by October whereas, for the 3 lower elevations, less than 10% of the litter placed in the field in April was lost through decomposition processes.