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Reduction of the temperature sensitivity of soil organic matter decomposition with sustained temperature increase

The degree to which microbial communities adjust their decomposition of soil carbon over time in response to long-term increases in temperature is one of the key uncertainties in our modeling of the responses of terrestrial ecosystems to warming. To better understand changes in temperature sensitivity of soil microbial communities to long-term increases in soil temperature, we incubated 27 soils for one year with both short-term and long-term manipulations of temperature. In response to increasing temperature short-term from 20 to 30 A degrees C, respiration rates increased more than threefold on average across soils. Yet, in response to long-term increases in temperature, respiration rates increased approximately half as much as they did to short-term increases in temperature. Short-term Q(10) of recalcitrant C correlated positively with long-term Q(10) measured between 10 and 20 A degrees C, yet there was no relationship between short-term Q(10) and long-term Q(10) between 20 and 30 A degrees C. In all, under laboratory conditions, it is clear that there is reduction in the temperature sensitivity of decomposition to long-term increases in temperature that disassociate short- and long-term responses of microbial decomposition to temperature. Determining the fate of soil organic matter to increased temperature will not only require further research on the controls and mechanisms of these patterns, but also require models to incorporate responses to both short-term and long-term increases in temperature.

Keywords: Decomposition, Temperature, Acclimation, Soils, Carbon

Author(s)Craine JM, Fierer N, McLauchlan KK, and Elmore AJ
IAN Author(s)Andrew Elmore
Journal / BookBiogeochemistry 113 (1-3): 359-368
TypePaper | Journal Article