Plant and Soil

, Volume 390, Issue 1–2, pp 61–76 | Cite as

Partitioning NEE for absolute C input into various ecosystem pools by combining results from eddy-covariance, atmospheric flux partitioning and 13CO2 pulse labeling

  • M. RiedererEmail author
  • J. Pausch
  • Y. Kuzyakov
  • T. FokenEmail author
Regular Article


Background and aims

The complexity of ecosystem processes, especially under continuously changing environmental conditions, requires high-resolution insight into ecosystem carbon (C) fluxes. It is essential to gain not only information about relative C balance and fluxes (common for partitioning studies), but also to obtain these in absolute mass units.


To evaluate absolute fluxes in belowground C pools, the results of 21-day eddy-covariance and stable isotope labeling experiment in summer 2010, were combined. Eddy-covariance based net ecosystem exchange was measured on extensively managed grassland and separated into underlying assimilation and ecosystem respiration through the use of a C flux partitioning model. Resultant CO2 assimilation served as absolute C input into the ecosystem and was further partitioned by applying the relative C distribution in subsidiary pools, gained by 13C pulse labeling and tracing.


The results form eddy-covariance measurements showed that the extensively managed grassland was a significant net C sink of −91 g C m−2 a−1 in 2010.

The mean daily assimilation of −7.1 g C m−2 d−1 was partitioned into fluxes of 2.5, 0.8, 0.5, 2.3 and 1.0 g C m−2 d−1 into shoots, roots, soil, shoot respiration and CO2 efflux from soil, respectively.


We conclude that the combination of EC measurements with isotope labeling techniques allowed determining the absolute C input into several ecosystem pools. Hence, the study demonstrates an approach to expand atmospheric flux measurements and to gain insight into the importance of individual ecosystem pools for soil C cycling.


Stable isotope pulse labeling Net ecosystem exchange Carbon flux Extensively managed grassland 



The project “Investigation of carbon turnover of grasslands in a northern Bavarian low mountain range under extreme climate conditions” was funded within the joint research project “FORKAST” by the Bavarian State Ministry of Sciences, Research and Arts. The authors wish to acknowledge the support of the participants of the FORKAST project, especially Prof. Dr. Anke Jentsch and Alexander Ulmer for evaluation of biodiversity and species determination on our site. Finally, the authors want to thank Prof. Dr. Gerhard Gebauer and his team of the Laboratory of Isotope Biogeochemistry for the abundance analysis of the carbon isotopes, all colleagues, technicians and research assistants who took part in the field and laboratory work, especially Martin Rimmler, Martin Pannek, Ilse Thaufelder, Johannes Olesch and last but not least Peng Zhao for his support with the flux partitioning model.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MicrometeorologyUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  2. 2.Department of Soil Science of Temperate EcosystemsUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  3. 3.Member of Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research (BayCEER)University of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  4. 4.Regensburg Center of Energy and ResourcesRegensburg University of Applied SciencesRegensburgGermany

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