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Seasonal Influence of Biodiversity on Soil Respiration in a Temperate Forest

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  • Mengxu Zhang
  • Emma J. Sayer
  • Weidong Zhang
  • Ji Ye
  • Zuoqiang Yuan
  • Fei Lin
  • Zhanqing Hao
  • Shuai Fang
  • Zikun Mao
  • Jing Ren
  • Xugao Wang
Article number3391
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>5/12/2022
Issue number23
Number of pages15
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Soil respiration in forests contributes to significant carbon dioxide emissions from terrestrial ecosystems but it varies both spatially and seasonally. Both abiotic and biotic factors influence soil respiration but their relative contribution to spatial and seasonal variability remains poorly understood, which leads to uncertainty in models of global C cycling and predictions of future climate change. Here, we hypothesize that tree diversity, soil diversity, and soil properties contribute to local-scale variability of soil respiration but their relative importance changes in different seasons. To test our hypothesis, we conducted seasonal soil respiration measurements along a local-scale environmental gradient in a temperate forest in Northeast China, analyzed spatial variability of soil respiration and tested the relationships between soil respiration and a variety of abiotic and biotic factors including topography, soil chemical properties, and plant and soil diversity. We found that soil respiration varied substantially across the study site, with spatial coefficients of variation (CV) of 29.1%, 27.3% and 30.8% in spring, summer, and autumn, respectively. Soil respiration was consistently lower at high soil water content, but the influence of other factors was seasonal. In spring, soil respiration increased with tree diversity and biomass but decreased with soil fungal diversity. In summer, soil respiration increased with soil temperature, whereas in autumn, soil respiration increased with tree diversity but decreased with increasing soil nutrient content. However, soil nutrient content indirectly enhanced soil respiration via its effect on tree diversity across seasons, and forest stand structure indirectly enhanced soil respiration via tree diversity in spring. Our results highlight that substantial differences in soil respiration at local scales was jointly explained by soil properties (soil water content and soil nutrients), tree diversity, and soil fungal diversity but the relative importance of these drivers varied seasonally in our temperate forest.