Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Linking Soil CO2 Efflux to Individual Trees: Size-Dependent Variation and the Importance of the Birch Effect

Version 1 : Received: 9 December 2020 / Approved: 10 December 2020 / Online: 10 December 2020 (11:52:21 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Schurman, J.S.; Thomas, S.C. Linking Soil CO2 Efflux to Individual Trees: Size-Dependent Variation and the Importance of the Birch Effect. Soil Syst. 2021, 5, 7. Schurman, J.S.; Thomas, S.C. Linking Soil CO2 Efflux to Individual Trees: Size-Dependent Variation and the Importance of the Birch Effect. Soil Syst. 2021, 5, 7.

Journal reference: Soil Syst. 2021, 5, 7
DOI: 10.3390/soilsystems5010007

Abstract

Soil CO2 efflux (FCO2) plays a dominant role in the terrestrial carbon (C) cycle but interpreting constraints on local observations is impeded by challenges in disentangling belowground CO2 sources. Trees contribute most C to forest soils, so linking aboveground properties to FCO2 could open new avenues to study plant-soil feedbacks and facilitate scaling; furthermore, FCO2 responds dynamically to meteorological conditions, complicating predictions of total FCO2 and forest C balance. We tested for proximity effects of individual Acer saccharum Marsh. trees on FCO2, comparing FCO2 within 1 m of mature stems to background fluxes before and after an intense rainfall event. Wetting significantly increased background FCO2 (6.4±0.3 vs. 8.6±0.6 s.e. μmol CO2 m-2s-1), with a much larger enhancement near tree stems (6.3±0.3 vs. 10.8±0.4 μmol CO2 m-2s-1). FCO2 varied significantly among individual trees and post-rain values increased with tree diameter (with a slope of 0.058 μmol CO2 m-2s-1 cm-1). Post-wetting amplification of FCO2 (the ‘Birch effect’) in root zones often results from the improved mobility of labile carbohydrates and further metabolization of recalcitrant organic matter, which may both occur at higher densities near larger trees. Our results indicate that plant-soil feedbacks change through tree ontogeny and provide evidence for a novel link between whole-system carbon fluxes and forest structure.

Subject Areas

Birch effect; carbon flux; ecosystem function; intraspecific variation; plant-soil interaction; soil respiration; tree ontogeny

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