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Global patterns of geo-ecological controls on the response of soil respiration to warming

David Haaf, Johan Six,
Published: 3 June 2021
Nature Climate Change pp 1-5; doi:10.1038/s41558-021-01068-9

Abstract: While soil respiration is known to be controlled by a range of biotic and abiotic factors, its temperature sensitivity in global models is largely related to climate parameters. Here, we show that temperature sensitivity of soil respiration is primarily controlled by interacting soil properties and only secondarily by vegetation traits and plant growth conditions. Temperature was not identified as a primary driver for the response of soil respiration to warming. In contrast, the nonlinearity and large spatial variability of identified controls stress the importance of the interplay among soil, vegetation and climate parameters in controlling warming responses. Global models might predict current soil respiration but not future rates because they neglect the controls exerted by soil development. To accurately predict the response of soil respiration to warming at the global scale, more observational studies across pedogenetically diverse soils are needed rather than focusing on the isolated effect of warming alone. Understanding the temperature sensitivity of soil respiration is critical to determining soil carbon dynamics under climate change. Spatial heterogeneity in controls highlights the importance of interactions between vegetation, soil and climate in driving the response of respiration to warming.
Keywords: soil respiration / temperature sensitivity / diverse / stress / models / warming / interacting

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