Water limitation to soil CO2 efflux in a pine forest at the semiarid "timberline"

José M. Grünzweig, Deborah Hemming, Kadmiel Maseyk, Tongbao Lin, Eyal Rotenberg, Naama Raz-Yaseef, Pete D. Falloon, Dan Yakir

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42 Scopus citations


Warming and drying is predicted for most of the Mediterranean and other regions, and knowledge of this effect on forest carbon dynamics cannot be easily extrapolated from temperate climates. Instead, we provide quantitative information from a 6-year study in a 40-year old pine forest at the dry timberline (280 mm annual rainfall) on soil CO2 efflux (F s) and some of its controlling factors. Annual Fs was relatively low (405.9 ± 23.8 g C m-2 a-1), but within one standard deviation of a global nonlinear relationship we derived between mean annual precipitation and Fs. in forests. Seasonal variations in Fs were dominated by soil temperature (with Q 10 = 2.45) in the wet season, and by soil moisture in the water-limited seasons, but not by pulse responses to precipitation No temperature sensitivity was observed in the dry season, but there was clear evidence for down regulation of sensitivity to Q10 = 1.18 when soil moisture was kept high by a supplement summer irrigation treatment. Interannual variations in F5 correlated linearly with cumulative rainwater availability, indicating the combined importance of both precipitation amount and its temporal distribution between the wet (and cool) season and the transitional periods characterized by high evaporative demand. Low rates of soil carbon loss combined with high belowground carbon allocation (41% of canopy CO2 uptake) might explain the high soil organic carbon accumulation and net ecosystem productivity in this dry forest. Our results indicate that FS in pine forests may adjust to dry conditions with better carbon economy than estimated from response to episodic drought in more temperate climate.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberG03008
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2009


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