Microbial Respiration in Arctic Upland and Peat Soils as a Source of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Biasi, Christina; Jokinen, Simo; Marushchak, Maija; Hämäläinen, Kai; Trubnikova, Tatiana; Oinonen, Markku; Martikainen, Pertti
January 2014
Ecosystems;Jan2014, Vol. 17 Issue 1, p112
Academic Journal
Knowledge on soil microbial respiration (SMR) rates and thus soil-related CO losses from Arctic soils is vital because of the crucial importance of this ecosystem within the global carbon (C) cycle and climate system. Here, we measured SMR from various habitats during the growing season in Russian subarctic tundra by applying two different approaches: C partitioning approach and root trenching. The variable habitats encompassed peat and mineral soils, bare and vegetated surfaces and included both dry and moist ones. The field experiment was complemented by laboratory studies to measure bioavailability of soil carbon and identify sources of CO. Differences in bioavailability of soils, measured in the laboratory as basal soil respiration rates, were generally greater than inter-site differences in SMR rates measured in situ, suggesting secondary constraints at field conditions, such as soil C content. There was a tendency towards lower SMR in vegetated peat plateaus compared to upland mineral tundra (on average 137 vs. 185 g CO m growing season, respectively), but no significant differences were found. Surprisingly, the bare surfaces (peat circles) with 3500-year-old C at the surface exhibited about the largest SMR among all sites as shown by both methods. This was related to the general development of peat plateaus in the region, and uplifting of deeper peat with high C content to the surface during the genesis of peat circles. This observation is particularly relevant for decomposition of deeper peat in vegetated peat plateaus, where soil material similar to the bare surfaces can be found. The data indicate that the large stocks of C stored in permafrost peatlands are principally available for decomposition despite old age.


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