Thermal adaptation of soil microbial respiration to elevated temperature
Bradford, Mark A.
Davies, Christian A.
Frey, Serita D.
Maddox, Thomas R.
Melillo, Jerry M.
Mohan, Jacqueline E.
Reynolds, James F.
Treseder, Kathleen K.
Wallenstein, Matthew D.
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KeywordAcclimation; Adaptation; Soil respiration; Thermal biology; Temperature; Carbon cycling; Climate change; Climate warming; Microbial community; CO2
In the short-term heterotrophic soil respiration is strongly and positively related to temperature. In the long-term its response to temperature is uncertain. One reason for this is because in field experiments increases in respiration due to warming are relatively short-lived. The explanations proposed for this ephemeral response include depletion of fast-cycling, soil carbon pools and thermal adaptation of microbial respiration. Using a >15 year soil warming experiment in a mid-latitude forest, we show that the apparent ‘acclimation’ of soil respiration at the ecosystem scale results from combined effects of reductions in soil carbon pools and microbial biomass, and thermal adaptation of microbial respiration. Mass specific respiration rates were lower when seasonal temperatures were higher, suggesting that rate reductions under experimental warming likely occurred through temperature-induced changes in the microbial community. Our results imply that stimulatory effects of global temperature rise on soil respiration rates may be lower than currently predicted.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2008. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Blackwell for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Ecology Letters 11 (2008): 1316-1327, doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01251.x.
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