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Although litterfall respiration (RL) is a key process of soil carbon dynamics in forests, factors that drive RL and its contribution to soil respiration (RS) have not been sufficiently studied. Using a litter removal method, we researched
RL and the ratio of RL:RS in a 20-year-old exotic slash pine (Pinus elliottii Englem.) plantation in subtropical China. Soil temperature explained
67%, 78%, and 25% of variation in RS, mineral soil respiration (RS-L), and RL, respectively, but had little impact on RL:RS. To study influences besides temperature, measured RS and
RS-L were normalized using the Arrhenius equation. Even though this subtropical plantation was characterized by a humid climate with abundant precipitation, a rainfall pulse induced increase in soil moisture primarily drove RL and its contribution to RS
but depressed RS-L. The response of RL to rainfall and soil moisture was significantly more sensitive than that of RS-L. Furthermore, the effects of rainfall and soil moisture on RS, RL, and RL:RS
were higher during the dry season (July–December) than during the wet season (January–June). In the context of climate change, RL and its contribution to RS are expected to decrease because of the predicted decrease in rainfall amount and frequency
in subtropical regions.
Tianjin Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Environment, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300387, China. 2:
Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China. 3:
Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China.
Publication date: April 14, 2012
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