Plant and Soil

, Volume 342, Issue 1–2, pp 195–206 | Cite as

Spatial and temporal effects of soil temperature and moisture and the relation to fine root density on root and soil respiration in a mature apple orchard

  • Christian Ceccon
  • Pietro Panzacchi
  • Francesca Scandellari
  • Luca Prandi
  • Maurizio Ventura
  • Barbara Russo
  • Peter Millard
  • Massimo Tagliavini
Regular Article


We identified the role of various soil parameters and root density as drivers of soil respiration (Rs) in an apple orchard, measured during different periods of the year and at a range of distances from trees, in plots with a different history of nutrient supply. Rs was measured in April, May, August and December and studied in relation to soil temperature and moisture, total soil C and N, as well as to fine root density and medium-, and large-sized root density and root N concentration. The study also aimed to partition Rs by applying the root regression technique. Rs ranged from 0.06 in December to 1.49 g CO2 m−2 h−1 in August. Average soil temperature alone explained up to 71% of the annual variability of Rs, while soil water content was negatively correlated to Rs. Fertilization, soil C and N concentration and root N had negligible effects on Rs. Fine root density, but not medium- and large-sized root density, contributed to explaining part of the yearly variability of Rs and proved to be a good predictor in December, when the statistical significance of the regression made it possible to estimate the autotrophic component of Rs as being about 35% of total soil respiration.


Apple trees Root density Root respiration Soil respiration Soil temperature Soil water content 



The research was funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research through the National Project "PRIN 2008, CARBON CYCLE IN MANAGED TREE ECOSYSTEMS" and by internal funds of the Free University of Bolzano/Bozen to M.T. We thank the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Ceccon
    • 1
    • 4
  • Pietro Panzacchi
    • 1
  • Francesca Scandellari
    • 1
    • 5
  • Luca Prandi
    • 1
  • Maurizio Ventura
    • 1
  • Barbara Russo
    • 2
  • Peter Millard
    • 3
  • Massimo Tagliavini
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Fruit Tree and Woody Plant SciencesBologna UniversityBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Faculty of Computer ScienceFree University of Bolzano/BozenBolzanoItaly
  3. 3.The Macaulay Land Use Research InstituteAberdeenUK
  4. 4.Faculty of Science and TechnologyFree University of Bolzano/BozenBolzanoItaly
  5. 5.CSRCUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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