, Volume 11, Issue 8, pp 1352-1367
Date: 15 Oct 2008

Soil Respiration in European Grasslands in Relation to Climate and Assimilate Supply

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Soil respiration constitutes the second largest flux of carbon (C) between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere. This study provides a synthesis of soil respiration (R s) in 20 European grasslands across a climatic transect, including ten meadows, eight pastures and two unmanaged grasslands. Maximum rates of R s ( \( R_{{{\text{s}}_{{{\text{max}}}} }} \)), R s at a reference soil temperature (10°C; \( R_{{{\text{s}}_{{{\text{10}}}} }} \)) and annual R s (estimated for 13 sites) ranged from 1.9 to 15.9 μmol CO2 m−2 s−1, 0.3 to 5.5 μmol CO2 m−2 s−1 and 58 to 1988 g C m−2 y−1, respectively. Values obtained for Central European mountain meadows are amongst the highest so far reported for any type of ecosystem. Across all sites \( R_{{{\text{s}}_{{{\text{max}}}} }} \) was closely related to \( R_{{{\text{s}}_{{{\text{10}}}} }} \). Assimilate supply affected R s at timescales from daily (but not necessarily diurnal) to annual. Reductions of assimilate supply by removal of aboveground biomass through grazing and cutting resulted in a rapid and a significant decrease of R s. Temperature-independent seasonal fluctuations of R s of an intensively managed pasture were closely related to changes in leaf area index (LAI). Across sites \( R_{{{\text{s}}_{{{\text{10}}}} }} \) increased with mean annual soil temperature (MAT), LAI and gross primary productivity (GPP), indicating that assimilate supply overrides potential acclimation to prevailing temperatures. Also annual R s was closely related to LAI and GPP. Because the latter two parameters were coupled to MAT, temperature was a suitable surrogate for deriving estimates of annual R s across the grasslands studied. These findings contribute to our understanding of regional patterns of soil C fluxes and highlight the importance of assimilate supply for soil CO2 emissions at various timescales.