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Experimental soil warming and cooling alters the partitioning of recent assimilates: evidence from a 14C-labelling study at the alpine treeline


Ferrari, Adele; Hagedorn, F; Niklaus, Pascal A (2016). Experimental soil warming and cooling alters the partitioning of recent assimilates: evidence from a 14C-labelling study at the alpine treeline. Oecologia, 181(1):25-37.

Abstract

Despite concerns about climate change-effects on ecosystems functioning, only little is known on how plant assimilate partitioning changes with temperature. Particularly large temperature-effects might occur in cold ecosystems where critical processes are at their temperature limit. In this study, we tested temperature effects on carbon (C) assimilate partitioning in a field experiment at the alpine treeline. We warmed and cooled soils of microcosms planted with Pinus mugo or Leucanthemopsis alpina, achieving daily mean soil temperatures (3-10 cm depth) around 5.8, 12.7 and 19.2°C in cooled, control and warmed soils. We pulse-labelled these systems with 14CO2 for one photoperiod and traced 14C over the successive four days. Plant net 14C uptake increased steadily with soil temperature. However, 14C amounts in fungal hyphae, soil microbial biomass, soil organic matter, and soil respiration showed a non-linear response to temperature. This non-linear pattern was particularly pronounced in P. mugo, with five times higher 14C activities in cooled compared to control soils, but no difference between warmed and control soil. Autoradiographic analysis of the spatial distribution of 14C in soils indicated that temperature effects on the vertical label distribution within soils depended on plant species. Our results show that plant growth, in particular root metabolism, is limited by low soil temperature. As a consequence, positive temperature effects on net C uptake may not be paralleled by similar changes in rhizodeposition. This has important implications for predictions of soil C storage, because rhizodeposits and plant biomass strongly vary in their residence time.

Abstract

Despite concerns about climate change-effects on ecosystems functioning, only little is known on how plant assimilate partitioning changes with temperature. Particularly large temperature-effects might occur in cold ecosystems where critical processes are at their temperature limit. In this study, we tested temperature effects on carbon (C) assimilate partitioning in a field experiment at the alpine treeline. We warmed and cooled soils of microcosms planted with Pinus mugo or Leucanthemopsis alpina, achieving daily mean soil temperatures (3-10 cm depth) around 5.8, 12.7 and 19.2°C in cooled, control and warmed soils. We pulse-labelled these systems with 14CO2 for one photoperiod and traced 14C over the successive four days. Plant net 14C uptake increased steadily with soil temperature. However, 14C amounts in fungal hyphae, soil microbial biomass, soil organic matter, and soil respiration showed a non-linear response to temperature. This non-linear pattern was particularly pronounced in P. mugo, with five times higher 14C activities in cooled compared to control soils, but no difference between warmed and control soil. Autoradiographic analysis of the spatial distribution of 14C in soils indicated that temperature effects on the vertical label distribution within soils depended on plant species. Our results show that plant growth, in particular root metabolism, is limited by low soil temperature. As a consequence, positive temperature effects on net C uptake may not be paralleled by similar changes in rhizodeposition. This has important implications for predictions of soil C storage, because rhizodeposits and plant biomass strongly vary in their residence time.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:05 Feb 2016 14:06
Last Modified:29 Aug 2016 00:00
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0029-8549
Additional Information:The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00442-015-3427-y
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-015-3427-y
PubMed ID:26314342

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