Soil respiration in different agricultural and natural ecosystems in an arid region

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Lai, Liming
Zhao, Xuechun
Jiang, Lianhe
Wang, Yongji
Luo, Liangguo
Zheng, Yuanrun
Chen, Xi
Rimmington, Glyn M.

Lai, L., Zhao, X., Jiang, L., Wang, Y., Luo, L., Zheng, Y., Chen, X., and Rimmington, G.M., 2012, Soil respiration in different agricultural and natural ecosystems in an arid region: PLoS ONE vol. 7, no. 10, p. 1-9, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048011.


The variation of different ecosystems on the terrestrial carbon balance is predicted to be large. We investigated a typical arid region with widespread saline/alkaline soils, and evaluated soil respiration of different agricultural and natural ecosystems. Soil respiration for five ecosystems together with soil temperature, soil moisture, soil pH, soil electric conductivity and soil organic carbon content were investigated in the field. Comparing with the natural ecosystems, the mean seasonal soil respiration rates of the agricultural ecosystems were 96%-386% higher and agricultural ecosystems exhibited lower CO2 absorption by the saline/alkaline soil. Soil temperature and moisture together explained 48%, 86%, 84%, 54% and 54% of the seasonal variations of soil respiration in the five ecosystems, respectively. There was a significant negative relationship between soil respiration and soil electrical conductivity, but a weak correlation between soil respiration and soil pH or soil organic carbon content. Our results showed that soil CO2 emissions were significantly different among different agricultural and natural ecosystems, although we caution that this was an observational, not manipulative, study. Temperature at the soil surface and electric conductivity were the main driving factors of soil respiration across the five ecosystems. Care should be taken when converting native vegetation into cropland from the point of view of greenhouse gas emissions.

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