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Changes in seasonal soil respiration with pasture conversion to forest in Atlantic Canada

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This study compares approximately weekly soil respiration across two forest–pasture pairs with similar soil, topography and climate to document how conversion of pasture to forest alters net soil CO2 respiration. Over the 2.5 year period of the study, we found that soil respiration was reduced by an average of 41% with conversion of pasture to forest on an annual basis. Both pastured sites showed similar annual soil respiration rates. Comparisons of the paired forests, one coniferous and the other broadleaf, only showed a significant difference over one annual cycle. Enhanced soil respiration in pastures may be the result of either enhanced root respiration and/or microbial respiration. Differences in pasture–forest soil respiration were primarily observed during the July through September summer period at all sites, suggesting that this is the critical period for observing and documenting differences. Evaluation of the soil microclimatic controls on soil respiration suggest that soil temperature exerts a major control on this process, and that examining these relationships on a seasonal rather than weekly basis provides the strongest relationships in poorly drained soils. Consistently greater pastured site Q 10s (2.52;2.42) than forested site Q 10s (2.27; 2.17) were observed, with paired-site differences of 0.25.

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This research was supported by the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). Amanda Diochon provided the vegetation site descriptions and many other members of the Environmental Sciences Research Centre at StFXU contributed to the collection and analysis of this data. The comments of reviewers are gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to L. Kellman.

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Kellman, L., Beltrami, H. & Risk, D. Changes in seasonal soil respiration with pasture conversion to forest in Atlantic Canada. Biogeochemistry 82, 101–109 (2007).

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