Skip to main content

Non-growing season soil CO2 efflux and its changes in an alpine meadow ecosystem of the Qilian Mountains, Northwest China

Abstract

Most soil respiration measurements are conducted during the growing season. In tundra and boreal forest ecosystems, cumulative, non-growing season soil CO2 fluxes are reported to be a significant component of these systems’ annual carbon budgets. However, little information exists on soil CO2 efflux during the non-growing season from alpine ecosystems. Therefore, comparing measurements of soil respiration taken annually versus during the growing season will improve the accuracy of estimating ecosystem carbon budgets, as well as predicting the response of soil CO2 efflux to climate changes. In this study, we measured soil CO2 efflux and its spatial and temporal changes for different altitudes during the non-growing season in an alpine meadow located in the Qilian Mountains, Northwest China. Field experiments on the soil CO2 efflux of alpine meadow from the Qilian Mountains were conducted along an elevation gradient from October 2010 to April 2011. We measured the soil CO2 efflux, and analyzed the effects of soil water content and soil temperature on this measure. The results show that soil CO2 efflux gradually decreased along the elevation gradient during the non-growing season. The daily variation of soil CO2 efflux appeared as a single-peak curve. The soil CO2 efflux was low at night, with the lowest value occurring between 02:00–06:00. Then, values started to rise rapidly between 07:00–08:30, and then descend again between 16:00–18:30. The peak soil CO2 efflux appeared from 11:00 to 16:00. The soil CO2 efflux values gradually decreased from October to February of the next year and started to increase in March. Non-growing season Q10 (the multiplier to the respiration rate for a 10°C increase in temperature) was increased with raising altitude and average Q10 of the Qilian Mountains was generally higher than the average growing season Q10 of the Heihe River Basin. Seasonally, non-growing season soil CO2 efflux was relatively high in October and early spring and low in the winter. The soil CO2 efflux was positively correlated with soil temperature and soil water content. Our results indicate that in alpine ecosystems, soil CO2 efflux continues throughout the non-growing season, and soil respiration is an important component of annual soil CO2 efflux.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Aiken R M, Jawson M D, Grahammer K, et al. 1991. Positional, spatially correlated and random components of variability in carbon-dioxide efflux. Journal of Environmental Quality, 20: 301–308.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Atkin O K, Tjoelker M G. 2003. Thermal acclimation and the dynamic response of plant respiration to temperature. Trends in Plant Science, 8: 343–351.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brooks P D, Schmidt S K, Williams M W. 1997. Winter production of CO2 and N2O from alpine tundra: environmental controls and relationship to inter-system C and N fluxes. Oecologia, 110: 403–413.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brooks P D, McKnight D, Elder K. 2004. Carbon limitation of soil respiration under winter snowpacks: potential feedbacks between growing season and winter carbon fluxes. Global Change Biology, 11: 231–238.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Buchmann N. 2000. Biotic and abiotic factors controlling soil respiration rates in Picea abies stands. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 32: 1625–1635.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cao G M, Li Y N, Zhang J X, et al. 2001. Values of carbon dioxide emission from different land-use patterns of alpine meadow. Environmental Science, 22(6): 14–19.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chang Z Q, Shi Z M, Feng Q. 2005a. Effect of temperature in different communities on soil respiration in Qilian Mountains. Chinese Journal of Agrometeorology, 26(2): 85–89.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chang Z Q, Shi Z M, Feng Q, et al. 2005b. Temporal variation of soil respiration on sloping pasture of Heihe River basin and effects of temperature and soil moisture on it. Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology, 16(9): 1603–1606.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chapin F S, Zimov S A, Shaver G R, et al. 1996. CO2 fluctuation at high latitudes. Nature, 383: 585–586.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cui X Y, Chen Z Z, Chen S Q. 2001. Progress in research on soil respiration of grasslands. Acta Ecologica Sinica, 21(2): 315–325.

    Google Scholar 

  • Davidson E A, Belk E, Boone R D. 1998. Soil water content and temperature as independent or confounded factors controlling soil respiration in a temperate mixed hardwood forest. Global Change Biology, 4: 217–227.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Davidson E A, Janssens I A, 2006. Temperature sensitivity of soil carbon decomposition and feedbacks to climate change. Nature, 440: 165–173.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fahnestock J T, Jones M H, Brooks P D, et al. 1998. Winter and early spring CO2 efflux from tundra communities of northern Alaska. Journal of Geophysical Research, 103: 29023–29027.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fahnestock J T, Jones M H, Welker J M. 1999. Wintertime CO2 efflux from arctic soils: implications for annual carbon budgets. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 13: 775–779.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fang C, Moncrieff J B, Gholz H L, et al. 1998. Soil CO2 efflux and its spatial variation in a Florida slash pine plantation. Plant and Soil, 205: 135–146.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fang C, Moncrieff J B. 2001. The dependence of soil CO2 efflux on temperature. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 33: 155–165.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Frank A B, Liebig M A, Hanson J D. 2002. Soil carbon dioxide fluxes in northern semiarid grassland. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 34: 1235–1241.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gansu Forest Department. 1998. Gansu Forest. Lanzhou: Gansu Science and Technology Press, 158.

    Google Scholar 

  • Giardina C P, Ryan M G. 2000. Evidence that decomposition rates of organic carbon in mineral soil do not vary with temperature. Nature, 404: 858–861.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Groffman P M, Hardy J P, Driscoll C T, et al. 2006. Snowdepth, soil freezing, and fluxes of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide andmethane in a northern hardwood forest. Global Change Biology, 12: 1748–1760.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hanson P J, Edwards N T, Garten C T, et al. 2000. Separating root and soil microbial contributions to soil respiration: a review of methods and observations. Biogeochemistry, 48: 115–146.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hanson P J, O’Neill E G, Chambers M L S, et al. 2003. Soil respiration and litter decomposition. In: Hanson P J, Wullschleger S D. North American Temperate Deciduous Forest Responses to Changing Precipitation Regimes. New York: Springer-Verlag, 163–189.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • IPCC. 2007. Summary for policy makers. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, et al. Climate Change 2007: the Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1–18.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jia B R, Zhou G S, Wang F Y, et al. 2005. Soil respiration and its influencing factors at grazing and fenced typical Leymus chinensis Steppe, Nei Monggol. Environmental Science, 26(6): 1–7.

    Google Scholar 

  • Keith H, Jacobsen K L, Raison R J. 1997. Effects of soil phosphorus availability, temperature and moisture on soil respiration in Eucalyptus pauciflora forest. Plant and Soil, 190: 127–141.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kirschbaum M U F. 1995. The temperature dependence of soil organic matter decomposition and the effect of global warming on soil organic C storage. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 27: 753–760.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kirschbaum M U F. 2006. The temperature dependence of organic-matter decomposition-still a topic of debate. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 38: 2510–2518.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Li L H, Wang Q B, Bai Y F, et al. 2000. Soil respiration of a Leymus Chinensis grassland stand in the Xilin River Basin as affected by over-grazing and climate. Acta Phytoecologica Sinica, 24(6): 680–686.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ludwig B, Teepe R, de Gerenyu V L, et al. 2006. CO2 and N2O emissions from gleyic soils in the Russian tundra and a German forest during freeze-thaw periods-a microcosm study. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 38: 3516–3519.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mariko S, Nishimura N, Mo W H, et al. 2000. Winter CO2 flux from soil and snow surfaces in a cool-temperate deciduous forest, Japan. Ecological Research, 15: 363–372.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Maxwell B. 1997. Recent climate patterns in the Arctic. In: Oechel W C, Callaghan T, Gilmanov T, et al. Global Change and Arctic Terrestrial Ecosystems. New York: Springer, 21–46.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Mikan C J, Schimel J P, Doyle A P. 2002. Temperature controls of microbial respiration above and below freezing in Arctic tundra soils. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 34: 1785–1795.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Monson R K, Sparks J P, Rosenstiel T N, et al. 2005. Climatic influences on net ecosystem CO2 exchange during the transition from wintertime carbon source to springtime carbon sink in a high-elevation, subalpine forest. Oecologia, 146: 130–147.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Monson R K, Lipson D L, Burns S P, et al. 2006. Winter forest soil respiration controlled by climate and microbial community composition. Nature, 439: 711–714.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nobrega S, Grogan P. 2007. Deeper snow enhances winter respiration from both plant-associated and bulk soil carbon pools in Birch Hummock tundra. Ecosystems, 10: 419–431.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nordstroem C, Soegaard H, Christensen T R, et al. 2001. Seasonal carbon dioxide balance and respiration of a High Arctic fen ecosystem in NE-Greenland. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 70: 149–166.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Oechel W C, Hastings S J, Vourlitis G, et al. 1993. Recent change of Arctic tundra ecosystems from a net carbon dioxide sink to a source. Nature, 361: 520–523.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ostroumov V E, Siegert C. 1996. Exobiological aspects of mass transfer in microzones of permafrost deposits. Advances in Space Research, 18: 79–86.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Panikov N S, Flanagan P W, Oechel W C, et al. 2006. Microbial activity in soils frozen to below −39°C. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 38: 785–794.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pendall E, Bridgham S, Hanson P J, et al. 2004. Below-ground process responses to elevated CO2 and temperature: a discussion of observations, measurement methods, and models. New Phytologist, 162: 311–322.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Post W M, Emanual W R, Zinke P J, et al. 1982. Soil carbon pools and world life zones. Nature, 298: 156–159.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Raich J W. 1998. Aboveground productivity and soil respiration in three Hawaiian rain forests. Forest Ecology and Management, 107: 309–318.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rayment M B. 2000. Closed chamber systems underestimate soil CO2 efflux. European Journal of Soil Science, 51: 107–110.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Romanovsky V E, Osterkamp T E. 2000. Effects of unfrozen water on heat and mass transport processes in the active layer and permafrost. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, 11: 219–239.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Russell C A, Voroney R P. 1998. Carbon dioxide efflux from the floor of a boreal aspen forest. I. Relationship to environmental variables and estimates of C respired. Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 78: 301–310.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schimel J P, Clein J S. 1996. Microbial response to freeze-thaw cycles in tundra and taiga soils. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 28: 1061–1066.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schmidt S K, Lipson D A. 2004. Microbial growth under the snow: implications for nutrient and allelochemical availability in temperate soils. Plant and Soil, 259: 1–7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sommerfeld R A, Mosier A R, Musselman R C. 1993. CO2, CH4 and N2O flux through a Wyoming snowpack and implications for global budgets. Nature, 361: 140–142.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Uchida M, Mo W H, Nakatsubo T. 2005. Microbial activity and litter decomposition under snow cover in a cool-temperate broad-leaved deciduous forest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 134: 102–109.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wang C K, Yang J Y, Zhang Q Z. 2006. Soil respiration in six temperate forests in China. Global Change Biology, 12: 2103–2114.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wang W, Peng S S, Wang T, et al. 2010. Winter soil CO2 efflux and its contribution to annual soil respiration in different ecosystems of a forest-steppe eco-tone, north China. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 42: 451–458.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Xu M, Qi Y. 2001. Soil-surface CO2 efflux and its spatial and temporal variations in a young ponderosa pine plantation in northern California. Global Change Biology, 7: 667–677.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to ZongQiang Chang.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Chang, Z., Liu, X., Feng, Q. et al. Non-growing season soil CO2 efflux and its changes in an alpine meadow ecosystem of the Qilian Mountains, Northwest China. J. Arid Land 5, 488–499 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-013-0179-6

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-013-0179-6

Keywords

  • non-growing season soil CO2 efflux
  • spatial and temporal variation
  • alpine meadow
  • Q10 values
  • Qilian Mountains