Contrasting mechanisms underlie short- and longer-term soil respiration responses to experimental warming in a dryland ecosystem

TitleContrasting mechanisms underlie short- and longer-term soil respiration responses to experimental warming in a dryland ecosystem
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsDacal M, García-Palacios P, Asensio S, Cano-Díaz C, Gozalo B, Ochoa V, Maestre FT
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Volume26
Pagination5254-5266
ISBN Number1354-1013
Abstract

Abstract Soil carbon losses to the atmosphere through soil respiration are expected to rise with ongoing temperature increases, but available evidence from mesic biomes suggests that such response disappears after a few years of experimental warming. However, there is lack of empirical basis for these temporal dynamics in soil respiration responses, and for the mechanisms underlying them, in drylands, which collectively form the largest biome on Earth and store 32% of the global soil organic carbon pool. We coupled data from a 10 year warming experiment in a biocrust-dominated dryland ecosystem with laboratory incubations to confront 0–2 years (short-term hereafter) versus 8–10 years (longer-term hereafter) soil respiration responses to warming. Our results showed that increased soil respiration rates with short-term warming observed in areas with high biocrust cover returned to control levels in the longer-term. Warming-induced increases in soil temperature were the main drivers of the short-term soil respiration responses, whereas longer-term soil respiration responses to warming were primarily driven by thermal acclimation and warming-induced reductions in biocrust cover. Our results highlight the importance of evaluating short- and longer-term soil respiration responses to warming as a mean to reduce the uncertainty in predicting the soil carbon–climate feedback in drylands.

Short TitleGlobal Change Biol