, Volume 73, Issue 1, pp 271-282

Coupling of canopy gas exchange with root and rhizosphere respiration in a semi-arid forest

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Abstract.

The strength of coupling between canopy gas exchange and root respiration was examined in ~15-yr-old ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Doug. Ex Laws.) growing under seasonally drought stressed conditions. By regularly watering part of the root system to reduce tree water stress and measuring soil CO2 efflux on the dry, distant side of the tree, we were able to determine the strength of the relationship between soil autotrophic (root and rhizosphere) respiration and changes in canopy carbon uptake and water loss by comparison with control trees (no watering). After ~40 days the soil CO2 efflux rate, relative to pre-treatment conditions, was twice that of the controls. This difference, attributable to root and rhizosphere respiration, was strongly correlated with differences in transpiration rates between treatments (r 2 = 0.73, p<0.01). By the end of the period, transpiration of the irrigated treatment was twice that of controls. Periodic measurements of photosynthesis under non-light limited conditions paralleled the patterns of transpiration and were systematically higher in the irrigated treatment. We observed no evidence for a greater sensitivity of soil autotrophic respiration to temperature compared to the response of heterotrophic respiration to temperature; the Q 10 for total soil respiration was 1.6 (p>0.99) for both treatments. At the ecosystem scale, daily soil CO2 efflux rate was linearly related to gross primary productivity (GPP) as measured by eddy-covariance technique (r 2 = 0.55, p<0.01), suggesting patterns of soil CO2 release appear strongly correlated to recent carbon assimilation in this young pine stand. Collectively the observed relationships suggest some consideration should be given to the inclusion of canopy processes in future models of soil respiration.