Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 695–707 | Cite as

Spatial and seasonal variation in soil respiration along a slope in a rubber plantation and a natural forest in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China

  • Yong-li Zhao
  • Stefanie D. Goldberg
  • Jian-chu XuEmail author
  • Rhett D. Harrison


Soil respiration is a key component of the global carbon cycle, and even small changes in soil respiration rates could result in significant changes in atmospheric CO2 levels. The conversion of tropical forests to rubber plantations in SE Asia is increasingly common, and there is a need to understand the impacts of this land-use change on soil respiration in order to revise CO2 budget calculations. This study focused on the spatial variability of soil respiration along a slope in a natural tropical rainforest and a terraced rubber plantation in Xishuangbanna, Southwest (SW) China. In each land-use type, we inserted 105 collars for soil respiration measurements. Research was conducted over one year in Xishuangbanna during May, June, July and October 2015 (wet season) and January and March 2016 (dry season). The mean annual soil respiration rate was 30% higher in natural forest than in rubber plantation and mean fluxes in the wet and dry season were 15.1 and 9.5 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 in natural forest and 11.7 and 5.7 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 in rubber plantation. Using a linear mixed effects model to assess the effect of changes in soil temperature and moisture on soil respiration, we found that soil temperature was the main driver of variation in soil respiration, explaining 48% of its seasonal variation in rubber plantation and 30% in natural forest. After including soil moisture, the model explained 70% of the variation in soil respiration in natural forest and 76% in rubber plantation. In the natural forest slope position had a significant effect on soil respiration, and soil temperature and soil moisture gradients only partly explained this correlation. In contrast, soil respiration in rubber plantation was not affected by slope position, which may be due to the terrace structure that resulted in more homogeneous environmental conditions along the slope. Further research is needed to determine whether or not these findings hold true at a landscape level.


Soil respiration Tropical rain forest Rubber plantation Land-use change Carbon cycle Transect 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



This research is part of the BMZ/GIZ “Green Rubber” (Project No. Project No. 13.1432.7-001.00) and the CGIAR (Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research) Research Program 6: Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. It was financially supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany. The analyses were partly funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31450110067) and the Chinese Academy of Science funded the post-doc fellowship for Stefanie Goldberg (Grant No. 2013Y2SB0007). The authors thank all the staff from the NRWNNR offices, farmers and villagers who welcomed us doing this work.


  1. Adachi M, Bekku YS, Konuma AK, et al. (2005) Required sample size for estimating soil respiration rates in large areas of two tropical forests and of two types of plantation in Malaysia. Forest Ecology and Management 210: 455–459. Scholar
  2. Adachi M, Bekku YS, Rashidah W, et al. (2006) Differences in soil respiration between different tropical ecosystems. Applied Soil Ecology 34: 258–265. Scholar
  3. Adachi M, Ishida A, Bunyavejchewin S, et al. (2009) Spatial and temporal variation in soil respiration in a seasonally dry tropical forest, Thailand. Journal of Tropical Ecology 25: 531–539. Scholar
  4. Ahrends A, Hollingsworth PM, Ziegler AD, et al. (2015) Current trends of rubber plantation expansion may threaten biodiversity and livelihoods. Global Environmental Change 34: 48–58. Scholar
  5. Almagro M, Martínez-Mena M (2014) Litter decomposition rates of green manure as affected by soil erosion, transport and deposition processes, and the implications for the soil carbon balance of a rainfed olive grove under a dry Mediterranean climate. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 196: 167–177. 2014.06.027CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Balogh J, Pintér K, Fóti S, et al. (2011) Dependence of soil respiration on soil moisture, clay content, soil organic matter, and CO2 uptake in dry grasslands. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 43: 1006–1013. 2011.01.017CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berryman EM, Barnard HR, Adams HR, et al. (2015) Complex terrain alters temperature and moisture limitations of forest soil respiration across a semiarid to subalpine gradient. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences 120: 707–723. Scholar
  8. Birch HF (1958) The effect of soil drying on humus decomposition and nitrogen availability. Plant and Soil 10: 9–31. Scholar
  9. Brito LD, Marques J, Pereira GT, et al. (2009) Soil CO2 Emission of Sugarcane Fields as Affected by Topography. Scientia Agricola 66: 77–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cao M, Zhang JH (1997) Tree species diversity of tropical forest vegetation in Xishuangbanna, SW China. Biodiversity and Conservatio 6: 995–1006. 67630923CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Creed IF, Webster KL, Braun GL, et al. (2012) Topographically regulated traps of dissolved organic carbon create hotspots of soil carbon dioxide efflux in forests. Biogeochemistry 112: 149–164.–012–9713–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Davidson EA, Verchot LV, Cattanio JH, et al. (2000) Effects of soil water content on soil respiration in forests and cattle pastures of eastern Amazonia. Biogeochemistry 48: 53–69. Scholar
  13. de Blécourt M, Hänsel VM, Brumme R, et al. (2014) Soil redistribution by terracing alleviates soil organic carbon losses caused by forest conversion to rubber plantation. Forest Ecology and Management 313: 26–33. Scholar
  14. Dong LY, Wu CS, Gao JM, Sha LQ (2012) Effects of simulated rainfall on the soil respiration in tropical secondary forest and rubber plantation in Xishuangbanna of Yunnan,Southwest China. Chinese Journal of Ecology 31: 1887–1892. (In Chinese)–4890.2015.0232Google Scholar
  15. Epron D, Bosc A, Bonal D, Freycon V (2006) Spatial variation of soil respiration across a topographic gradient in a tropical rain forest in French Guiana. Journal of Tropical Ecology 22: 565–574. Scholar
  16. Epron D, Nouvellon Y, Roupsard O, et al. (2004) Spatial and temporal variations of soil respiration in a Eucalyptus plantation in Congo. Forest Ecology and Management 202: 149–160. Scholar
  17. Fang HJ, Yu GR, Cheng SL, et al. (2010) Effects of multiple environmental factors on CO2 emission and CH4 uptake from old-growth forest soils. Biogeosciences 7: 395–407.–7–395–2010CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fang QL, Sha LQ (2006) Soil respiration in a tropical seasonal rainforest and Rubber plantation in Xishuangbanna,Yunnan. Chinese Journal of Plant Ecology 30: 97–103. (In Chinese)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fang Y, Gundersen P, Zhang W, et al. (2008) Soil–atmosphere exchange of N2O, CO2 and CH4 along a slope of an evergreen broad-leaved forest in southern China. Plant and Soil 319: 37–48.–008–9847–2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Franzluebbers AJ (1999) Microbial activity in response to waterfilled pore space of variably eroded southern Piedmont soils. Applied Soil Ecology 11: 91–101.–1393(98)00128–0CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Goldberg SD, Zhao YL, Harrison RD, et al. (2017) Soil respiration in sloping rubber plantations and tropical natural forests in Xishuangbanna, China. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 249:237–246. 2017.08.001Google Scholar
  22. Hanson PJ, Wullschleger SD, Bohlman SA, and Todd DE (1993) Seasonal and Topographic Patterns of Forest Floor CO2 Efflux from an Upland Oak Forest. Tree Physiology 13: 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hashimoto S, Tanaka N, Suzuki M, et al. (2004) Soil respiration and soil CO2 concentration in a tropical forest, Thailand. Journal of Forest Research 9: 75–79.–003–0046-yCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ishizuka S, Iswandi A, Nakajima Y, et al. (2005) Spatial patterns of greenhouse gas emission in a tropical rainforest in Indonesia. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 71: 55–62.–004–5284–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jenkinson DS, Adams DE, Wild A (1991) Model Estimates of CO2 Emissions from Soil in Response to Global Warming. Nature 351: 304–306. Scholar
  26. Kang SY, Doh S, Lee D, et al. (2003) Topographic and climatic controls on soil respiration in six temperate mixed-hardwood forest slopes, Korea. Global Change Biology 9: 1427–1437.–2486.2003.00668.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Katayama A, Kume T, Komatsu H, et al. (2009) Effect of forest structure on the spatial variation in soil respiration in a Bornean tropical rainforest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 149: 1666–1673. agrformet.2009.05.007CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kosugi Y, Mitani T, Ltoh M, et al. (2007) Spatial and temporal variation in soil respiration in a Southeast Asian tropical rainforest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 147: 35–47. Scholar
  29. Kuzyakov Y, Cheng W (2001) Photosynthesis controls of rhizosphere respiration and organic matter decomposition. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 33: 1915–1925.–0717(01)00117–1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lang R, Blagodatsky S, Xu J, et al. (2017) Seasonal differences in soil respiration and methane uptake in rubber plantation and rainforest. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 240: 314–328. Scholar
  31. Leon E, Vargas R, Bullock S, et al. (2014) Hot spots, hot moments, and spatio-temporal controls on soil CO2 efflux in a water-limited ecosystem. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 77: 12–21. Scholar
  32. Li HF, Xia HP, Xiong YM (2007) Mechanism of greenhouse gases fluxes from soil and its controlling factors: A review. Ecology and Environment 16: 1781–1788. (In Chinese)–5906.2007.06.027Google Scholar
  33. Li HM, Ma YX, Liu WJ (2016) Land use and topography as predictors of nitrogen levels in tropical catchments in Xishuangbanna, SW China. Environmental Earth Sciences 75, 539.–015–5241–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Liao Ch H, Li P, Feng ZM, Zhang J (2014) Area monitoring by remote sensing and spatiotemporal variation of rubber plantations in Xishuangbanna. Transactions of the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering 30: 170–180. (In Chinese)–6819.2014.22.021Google Scholar
  35. Liu WJ, Luo QP, Lu HJ, et al. (2017) The effect of litter layer on controlling surface runoff and erosion in rubber plantations on tropical mountain slopes, SW China. Catena 149: 167–175. Scholar
  36. Lu HZ, Sha LQ, Hu WY, et al. (2009) Seasonal variation of soil respiration and it’s components in tropical rainforest and rubber plantation in Xishuangbnana, Yunnan. Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology 20: 2315–2322. (In Chinese)DOI: 10.13287/j.1001–9332.2009.0336Google Scholar
  37. Luan JW, Liu SR, Zhu XL, et al. (2012) Roles of biotic and abiotic variables in determining spatial variation of soil respiration in secondary oak and planted pine forests. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 44: 143–150. Scholar
  38. Mande HK, Abdullah AM, Aris AZ, Nuruddin AA (2014) A Comparison of Soil CO2 Efflux Rate in Young Rubber Plantation, Oil Palm Plantation, Recovering and Primary Forest Ecosystems of Malaysia. Polish journal of Environmental Studies 23: 1649–1657.Google Scholar
  39. Martin JG, Bolstad PV (2009) Variation of soil respiration at three spatial scales: Components within measurements, intrasite variation and patterns on the landscape. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 41: 530–543. 2008.12.012CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ohashi M, Kumagai TO, Kume T, et al. (2008) Characteristics of soil CO2 efflux variability in an aseasonal tropical rainforest in Borneo Island. Biogeochemistry 90: 275–289. https://doi. org/10.1007/s10533–008–9253–0CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ohashi M, Kume T, Yoshifuji N, et al. (2015) The effects of an induced short-term drought period on the spatial variations in soil respiration measured around emergent trees in a typical bornean tropical forest, Malaysia. Plant & Soil 387(1–2):337–349.–014–2303–6Google Scholar
  42. Raich JW, Potter CS (1995) Global Patterns of Carbon-Dioxide Emissions from Soils. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 9: 23–36. Scholar
  43. Rochette P, Desjardins RL, Pattey E (1991) Spatial and Temporal Variability of Soil Respiration in Agricultural Fields. Canadian Journal of Soil Science 71: 189–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Saiz G, Green C, Butterbach-Bahl K, et al. (2006) Seasonal and spatial variability of soil respiration in four Sitka spruce stands. Plant and Soil 287: 161–176.–006–9052–0CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Satakhun D, Gay F, Chairungsee N, et al. (2013) Soil CO2 efflux and soil carbon balance of a tropical rubber plantation. Ecological Research 28: 969–979.–013–1079–0CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schwendenmann L, Veldkamp E, Brenes T, et al. (2003) Spatial and temporal variation in soil CO2 efflux in an old-growth neotropical rain forest, La Selva, Costa Rica. Biogeochemistry 64: 111–128. Scholar
  47. Sheng H, Yang Y, Yang Z, et al. (2010) The dynamic response of soil respiration to land-use changes in subtropical China. Global Change Biology 16: 1107–1121.–2486.2009.01988.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Song QH, Tan ZH, Zhang YP, et al. (2013) Spatial heterogeneity of soil respiration in a seasonal rainforest with complex terrain. iForest-Biogeosciences and Forestry 6: 65–72.–006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Takahashi M, Hirai K, Limtong P, et al. (2011) Topographic variation in heterotrophic and autotrophic soil respiration in a tropical seasonal forest in Thailand. Soil Science and Plant Nutrition 57: 452–465. 2011.589363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Takyu M, Aiba SI, Kitayama K (2003) Changes in biomass, productivity and decomposition along topographical gradients under different geological conditions in tropical lower montane forests on Mount Kinabalu, Borneo. Oecologia 134: 397–404.–002–1115–1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tsui CC, Chen ZS, Hsieh CF (2004) Relationships between soil properties and slope position in a lowland rain forest of southern Taiwan. Geoderma 123: 131–142. Scholar
  52. Vankessel C, Pennock DJ, Farrell RE (1993) Seasonal-Variations in Denitrification and Nitrous-Oxide Evolution at the Landscape Scale. Soil Science Society of America journal 57: 988–995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wang CY, Chen Q, Yuan K, et al. (2013) Soil respiration rate and its relationship with soil temperature and moisture in Rubber plantations. Acta Ecologica Sinica 50: 974–982. (In Chinese) /trxb20121010401Google Scholar
  54. Werner C, Zheng X, Tang J, et al. (2006) N2O, CH4 and CO2 emissions from seasonal tropical rainforests and a rubber plantation in Southwest China. Plant and Soil 289: 335–353.–006–9143-yCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wood TE, Detto M, Silver WL (2013) Sensitivity of Soil Respiration to Variability in Soil Moisture and Temperature in a Humid Tropical Forest. Plos One 8, e80965. e8096510.1371/journal.pone.0080965CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wood TE, Silver WL (2012) Strong spatial variability in trace gasdynamics following experimental drought in a humid tropical forest. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 26, GB3005. Scholar
  57. Wu ZL, Liu HM, Liu LY (2001) Rubber cultivation and sustainable development in Xishuangbanna, China. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology 8: 337–345. 470091CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wu JJ, Goldberg SD, Mortimer PE, et al. (2016) Soil respiration under three different land use types in a tropical mountain region of China. Journal of Mountain Science 13:416–423.–014–3250–7Google Scholar
  59. Yang X, Blagodatsky S, Lippe M, et al. (2016) Land-use change impact on time-averaged carbon balances: Rubber expansion and reforestation in a biosphere reserve, South-West China. Forest Ecology and Management 372: 149–163. Scholar
  60. Yim MH, Joo SJ, Shutou K, Nakane K (2003) Spatial variability of soil respiration in a larch plantation: estimation of the number of sampling points required. Forest Ecology and Management 175: 585–588.–1127(02)00222–0CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Yuste JC, Baldocchi DD, Gershenson A, et al. (2007) Microbial soil respiration and its dependency on carbon inputs, soil temperature and moisture. Global Change Biology 13: 2018–2035.–2486.2007.01415.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Zhang X, Zhang YP, Sha LQ, et al. (2015) Effects of continuous drought stress on soil respiration in a tropical rainforest in southwest China. Plant and Soil 394: 343–353.–015–2523–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Zhou WJ, Sha LQ, Shou L, et al. (2008) Seasonal change of soil respiration and its influences factors in Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) in Xishuangbanna,SW China. Journal of Mountain Science 26: 317–325. (In Chinese)–2786.2008.03.020Google Scholar
  64. Ziegler AD, Fox JM, Xu JC (2009) The Rubber Juggernaut. Science 324: 1024–1025. 1173833CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Mountain Ecosystem Studies, Kunming Institute of BotanyChinese Academy of SciencesKunmingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.World Agroforestry CentreEast and Central AsiaKunmingChina
  4. 4.World Agroforestry CentreEast & Southern Africa RegionWoodlands, LusakaZambia

Personalised recommendations