, Volume 143, Issue 1, pp 136–142 | Cite as

Forest soil respiration rate and δ13C is regulated by recent above ground weather conditions

  • Alf EkbladEmail author
  • Björn Boström
  • Anders Holm
  • Daniel Comstedt
Ecosystem Ecology


Soil respiration, a key component of the global carbon cycle, is a major source of uncertainty when estimating terrestrial carbon budgets at ecosystem and higher levels. Rates of soil and root respiration are assumed to be dependent on soil temperature and soil moisture yet these factors often barely explain half the seasonal variation in soil respiration. We here found that soil moisture (range 16.5–27.6% of dry weight) and soil temperature (range 8–17.5°C) together explained 55% of the variance (cross-validated explained variance; Q2) in soil respiration rate (range 1.0–3.4 μmol C m−2  s−1) in a Norway spruce (Picea abies) forest. We hypothesised that this was due to that the two components of soil respiration, root respiration and decomposition, are governed by different factors. We therefore applied PLS (partial least squares regression) multivariate modelling in which we, together with below ground temperature and soil moisture, used the recent above ground air temperature and air humidity (vapour pressure deficit, VPD) conditions as x-variables. We found that air temperature and VPD data collected 1–4 days before respiration measurements explained 86% of the seasonal variation in the rate of soil respiration. The addition of soil moisture and soil temperature to the PLS-models increased the Q2 to 93%. δ13C analysis of soil respiration supported the hypotheses that there was a fast flux of photosynthates to root respiration and a dependence on recent above ground weather conditions. Taken together, our results suggest that shoot activities the preceding 1–6 days influence, to a large degree, the rate of root and soil respiration. We propose this above ground influence on soil respiration to be proportionally largest in the middle of the growing season and in situations when there is large day-to-day shifts in the above ground weather conditions. During such conditions soil temperature may not exert the major control on root respiration.


Air temperature 13PLS time series analysis Root respiration Soil temperature 



This work was supported by grants from the Swedish National Energy Administration, and the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning. We thank Stefan Jansson and Michael Sjöström for comments on the manuscript and Brevens bruk AB for kindly allowing us to perform experiments in their forests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alf Ekblad
    • 1
    Email author
  • Björn Boström
    • 1
  • Anders Holm
    • 1
  • Daniel Comstedt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Natural SciencesÖrebro UniversityÖrebroSweden

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