, Volume 19, Issue 8, pp 1460–1477 | Cite as

Temperature Dependence of Soil Respiration Modulated by Thresholds in Soil Water Availability Across European Shrubland Ecosystems

  • Eszter Lellei-KovácsEmail author
  • Zoltán Botta-Dukát
  • Giovanbattista de Dato
  • Marc Estiarte
  • Gabriele Guidolotti
  • Gillian R. Kopittke
  • Edit Kovács-Láng
  • György Kröel-Dulay
  • Klaus Steenberg Larsen
  • Josep Peñuelas
  • Andrew R. Smith
  • Alwyn Sowerby
  • Albert Tietema
  • Inger Kappel Schmidt


Soil respiration (SR) is a major component of the global carbon cycle and plays a fundamental role in ecosystem feedback to climate change. Empirical modelling is an essential tool for predicting ecosystem responses to environmental change, and also provides important data for calibrating and corroborating process-based models. In this study, we evaluated the performance of three empirical temperature–SR response functions (exponential, Lloyd–Taylor and Gaussian) at seven shrublands located within three climatic regions (Atlantic, Mediterranean and Continental) across Europe. We investigated the performance of SR models by including the interaction between soil moisture and soil temperature. We found that the best fit for the temperature functions depended on the site-specific climatic conditions. Including soil moisture, we identified thresholds in the three different response functions that improved the model fit in all cases. The direct soil moisture effect on SR, however, was weak at the annual time scale. We conclude that the exponential soil temperature function may only be a good predictor for SR in a narrow temperature range, and that extrapolating predictions for future climate based on this function should be treated with caution as modelled outputs may underestimate SR. The addition of soil moisture thresholds improved the model fit at all sites, but had a far greater ecological significance in the wet Atlantic shrubland where a fundamental change in the soil CO2 efflux would likely have an impact on the whole carbon budget.


annual soil respiration empirical soil respiration models soil moisture threshold shrubland temperature dependence temperature sensitivity 



We gratefully acknowledge the support of the INCREASE Project ( funded by the EC FP7-Infrastructure-2008-1 Grant Agreement 227628, and the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA K112576 and PD115637). ME and JP research was supported by the European Research Council Synergy Grant ERC-2013-SyG-610028 IMBALANCE-P, the Spanish Government Grant CGL2013-48074-P and the Catalan Government Grant SGR 2014-274. We thank the two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions.

Supplementary material

10021_2016_16_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (118 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 117 kb)
10021_2016_16_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (351 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 350 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eszter Lellei-Kovács
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zoltán Botta-Dukát
    • 1
  • Giovanbattista de Dato
    • 2
    • 9
  • Marc Estiarte
    • 3
    • 4
  • Gabriele Guidolotti
    • 2
    • 10
  • Gillian R. Kopittke
    • 5
  • Edit Kovács-Láng
    • 1
  • György Kröel-Dulay
    • 1
  • Klaus Steenberg Larsen
    • 6
  • Josep Peñuelas
    • 3
    • 4
  • Andrew R. Smith
    • 7
    • 8
  • Alwyn Sowerby
    • 7
  • Albert Tietema
    • 5
  • Inger Kappel Schmidt
    • 6
  1. 1.Institute of Ecology and BotanyMTA Centre for Ecological ResearchVácrátótHungary
  2. 2.Department for Innovation in Biological, Agro-food and Forest SystemsUniversity of TusciaViterboItaly
  3. 3.CSIC, Global Ecology UnitCREAF- CSIC-UABCataloniaSpain
  4. 4.CREAFCataloniaSpain
  5. 5.Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem DynamicsUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource ManagementUniversity of CopenhagenFrederiksbergDenmark
  7. 7.Centre for Ecology and HydrologyEnvironment Centre WalesBangorUK
  8. 8.School of Environment, Natural Resources and GeographyBangor UniversityBangorUK
  9. 9.Council for Agricultural Research and Economics - Forestry Research Centre (CREA-SEL)ArezzoItaly
  10. 10.Institute of Agro-Environmental and Forest Biology (IBAF) National Research Council (CNR)PoranoItaly

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