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Title: Shallow snowpack inhibits soil respiration in sagebrush steppe through multiple biotic and abiotic mechanisms

Abstract

In sagebrush steppe, snowpack may govern soil respiration through its effect on multiple abiotic and biotic factors. Across the Intermountain West of the United States, snowpack has been declining for decades and is projected to decline further over the next century, making the response of soil respiration to snowpack a potentially important factor in the ecosystem carbon cycle. In this study, we evaluated the direct and indirect roles of the snowpack in driving soil respiration in sagebrush steppe ecosystems by taking advantage of highway snowfences in Wyoming to manipulate snowpack. An important contribution of this study is the use of Bayesian modeling to quantify the effects of soil moisture and temperature on soil respiration across a wide range of conditions from frozen to hot and dry, while simultaneously accounting for biotic factors (e.g., vegetation cover, root density, and microbial biomass and substrate-use diversity) affected by snowpack. Elevated snow depth increased soil temperature (in the winter) and moisture (winter and spring), and was associated with reduced vegetation cover and microbial biomass carbon. Soil respiration showed an exponential increase with temperature, with a temperature sensitivity that decreased with increasing seasonal temperature (Q10 = 4.3 [winter], 2.3 [spring], and 1.7 [summer]); frozen soilsmore » were associated with unrealistic Q10 approximate to 7989 due to the liquid-to-ice transition of soil water. Soil respiration was sensitive to soil water content; predicted respiration under very dry conditions was less than 10% of respiration under moist conditions. While higher vegetation cover increased soil respiration, this was not due to increased root density, and may reflect differences in litter inputs. Microbial substrate-use diversity was negatively related to reference respiration (i.e., respiration rate at a reference temperature and optimal soil moisture), although the mechanism remains unclear. Lastly, this study indicates that soil respiration is inhibited by shallow snowpack through multiple mechanisms; thus, future decreases in snowpack across the sagebrush steppe have the potential to reduce losses of soil C, potentially affecting regional carbon balance.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4]
  1. Program in Ecology and Department of Botany University of Wyoming 1000 E. University Ave. Laramie Wyoming 82071 USA
  2. Department of Biology Central Michigan University 1200 S. Franklin St. Mount Pleasant Michigan 48859 USA
  3. Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment Western Sydney University Penrith New South Wales 2751 Australia
  4. School of Life Sciences Arizona State University PO 874701 Tempe Arizona 85287 USA
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. of Wyoming, Laramie, WY (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23); National Science Foundation (NSF); National Atmospheric and Space Administration (NASA)
OSTI Identifier:
1255631
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1255632; OSTI ID: 1437157
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0006973
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Ecosphere
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Ecosphere Journal Volume: 7 Journal Issue: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 2150-8925
Publisher:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; Bayesian modeling; microbial biomass; microbial substrate use; root respiration; sagebrush steppe; snowpack; soil moisture; soil respiration; temperature sensitivity; vegetation

Citation Formats

Tucker, Colin L., Tamang, Shanker, Pendall, Elise, and Ogle, Kiona. Shallow snowpack inhibits soil respiration in sagebrush steppe through multiple biotic and abiotic mechanisms. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1002/ecs2.1297.
Tucker, Colin L., Tamang, Shanker, Pendall, Elise, & Ogle, Kiona. Shallow snowpack inhibits soil respiration in sagebrush steppe through multiple biotic and abiotic mechanisms. United States. doi:10.1002/ecs2.1297.
Tucker, Colin L., Tamang, Shanker, Pendall, Elise, and Ogle, Kiona. Tue . "Shallow snowpack inhibits soil respiration in sagebrush steppe through multiple biotic and abiotic mechanisms". United States. doi:10.1002/ecs2.1297.
@article{osti_1255631,
title = {Shallow snowpack inhibits soil respiration in sagebrush steppe through multiple biotic and abiotic mechanisms},
author = {Tucker, Colin L. and Tamang, Shanker and Pendall, Elise and Ogle, Kiona},
abstractNote = {In sagebrush steppe, snowpack may govern soil respiration through its effect on multiple abiotic and biotic factors. Across the Intermountain West of the United States, snowpack has been declining for decades and is projected to decline further over the next century, making the response of soil respiration to snowpack a potentially important factor in the ecosystem carbon cycle. In this study, we evaluated the direct and indirect roles of the snowpack in driving soil respiration in sagebrush steppe ecosystems by taking advantage of highway snowfences in Wyoming to manipulate snowpack. An important contribution of this study is the use of Bayesian modeling to quantify the effects of soil moisture and temperature on soil respiration across a wide range of conditions from frozen to hot and dry, while simultaneously accounting for biotic factors (e.g., vegetation cover, root density, and microbial biomass and substrate-use diversity) affected by snowpack. Elevated snow depth increased soil temperature (in the winter) and moisture (winter and spring), and was associated with reduced vegetation cover and microbial biomass carbon. Soil respiration showed an exponential increase with temperature, with a temperature sensitivity that decreased with increasing seasonal temperature (Q10 = 4.3 [winter], 2.3 [spring], and 1.7 [summer]); frozen soils were associated with unrealistic Q10 approximate to 7989 due to the liquid-to-ice transition of soil water. Soil respiration was sensitive to soil water content; predicted respiration under very dry conditions was less than 10% of respiration under moist conditions. While higher vegetation cover increased soil respiration, this was not due to increased root density, and may reflect differences in litter inputs. Microbial substrate-use diversity was negatively related to reference respiration (i.e., respiration rate at a reference temperature and optimal soil moisture), although the mechanism remains unclear. Lastly, this study indicates that soil respiration is inhibited by shallow snowpack through multiple mechanisms; thus, future decreases in snowpack across the sagebrush steppe have the potential to reduce losses of soil C, potentially affecting regional carbon balance.},
doi = {10.1002/ecs2.1297},
journal = {Ecosphere},
number = 5,
volume = 7,
place = {United States},
year = {2016},
month = {5}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
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DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.1297

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