Plant and Soil

, Volume 403, Issue 1–2, pp 419–435

Spatial variability of soil respiration in a 64-year-old longleaf pine forest

  • Althea A. ArchMiller
  • Lisa J. Samuelson
  • Yingru Li
Regular Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11104-016-2817-1

Cite this article as:
ArchMiller, A.A., Samuelson, L.J. & Li, Y. Plant Soil (2016) 403: 419. doi:10.1007/s11104-016-2817-1



The objectives of this study were to determine the spatial structure of soil respiration (Rs) in a naturally-regenerated longleaf pine forest and to assess the ecological factors affecting the spatial variability in Rs.


Soil respiration, soil temperature (Ts), and soil moisture were repeatedly measured over 6 days in summer 2012 in 3 semi-independent plots. Edaphic, forest floor, and root variables were measured. Diameters of 338 trees were mapped. Spatial analysis and regression were applied.


Soil respiration was spatially autocorrelated across plots (66—92 m), but not within plots (6—34 m). Spatial distributions of Rs were relatively stable from morning through early evening and were decoupled from temporal variation of Ts. Ecological covariates (e.g., soil moisture, bulk density and carbon, litter mass, understory cover, roots, nearby trees) related to the spatial variability in Rs; however, models varied between plots.


This study shows the importance of stationary plant and soil factors in determining the spatial, temperature-independent distribution of Rs in a heterogeneous forest. We suggest the need for a better understanding of the complex interactions between the heterotrophic, autotrophic, and physical processes driving Rs in order to better model forest carbon budgets.


Pinus palustris Soil CO2 efflux Residual kriging Soil carbon Root biomass Litter 

Supplementary material

11104_2016_2817_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1013 kb)
ESM 1(DOCX 1012 kb)

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
    School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University
      National Institute of Food and Agriculture
      • 2011-68002-30185

      Copyright information

      © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

      Authors and Affiliations

      • Althea A. ArchMiller
        • 1
        • 3
      • Lisa J. Samuelson
        • 1
      • Yingru Li
        • 2
      1. 1.School of Forestry and Wildlife SciencesAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA
      2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA
      3. 3.Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation BiologyUniversity of MinnesotaSaint PaulUSA

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