Quantifying the timescales over which exogenous and endogenous conditions affect soil respiration

Published by Ecoss on

Understanding how exogenous and endogenous factors and above-ground-below-ground linkages modulate carbon dynamics is difficult because of the influences of antecedent conditions. For example, there are variable lags between above-ground assimilation and below-ground efflux, and the duration of antecedent periods are often arbitrarily assigned. Nonetheless, developing models linking above- and below-ground processes is crucial for estimating current and future carbon dynamics. We collected data on leaf-level photosynthesis (Asat ) and soil respiration (Rsoil ) in different microhabitats (under shrubs vs under bunchgrasses) in the Sonoran Desert. We evaluated timescales over which endogenous and exogenous factors control Rsoil by analyzing data in the context of a semimechanistic temperature-response model of Rsoil that incorporated effects of antecedent exogenous (soil water) and endogenous (Asat ) conditions. For both microhabitats, antecedent soil water and Asat significantly affected Rsoil , but Rsoil under shrubs was more sensitive to Asat than that under bunchgrasses. Photosynthetic rates 1 and 3 d before the Rsoil measurement were most important in determining current-day Rsoil under bunchgrasses and shrubs, respectively, indicating a significant lag effect. Endogenous and exogenous controls are critical drivers of Rsoil , but the relative importance and the timescale over which each factor affects Rsoil depends on above-ground vegetation and ecosystem structure characteristics.