Dynamic Responses of Root, Mycorrhizal and Soil Heterotrophic Respiration to Temperature Increases in an Arid System of Southeast Spain.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Carme Estruch and Francisco I Pugnaire, Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas, Functional Ecology, Almería, Spain
Mycorrhizal and heterotrophic respiration may represent up to 80% of total soil respiration in temperate environments; however little is known about arid environments where the dynamics of carbon cycling is less known. To improve models of CO2 efflux to the atmosphere in these environments it is necessary to quantify the contribution of soil components (roots, mycorrhizas and heterotrophic respiration) to soil respiration and their response to temperature increases. We settled up a soil partitioning experiment in December 2013 to address this topic. Using a mesh-collar design we quantified soil respiration of the tree main components (roots, mycorrhiza and heterotrophic respiration) in a Mediterranean arid location dominated by the shrub Rethama sphaerocarpa under two temperature regimes, an increased air temperature using open-top chambers (OTC) and a control. For the firths 6 months of measurements, we recorded a decrease in annual species cover with increased temperature; total soil respiration varied between treatments, being higher in the control treatment while, contrary to our expectations, mycorrhizal and soil heterotrophic respiration did not vary between treatments. When looking at the relative contribution of the different soil components, the treatment enclosing both mycorrhizal and soil heterotrophic respiration represented more than half the total soil respiration. These results show that temperature affects total soil respiration and that, in our case, mycorrhizal and soil heterotrophic community were not major drivers of soil respiration responses to temperature. However, these data correspond to an abnormal dry period and data to be collected during the wet season would help us to better understand the contribution of the different soil components to temperature increases in arid environments.