Drought reduces root respiration in sugar maple forests
Soil moisture deficits can reduce root respiration, but the effects have yet to be quantified at the stand level or included in models of forest carbon budgets. We studied fine-root (≤1.0 mm diameter) respiration in four sugar maple forests for three growing seasons in order to assess the combined effects of temperature, N concentration, and soil moisture on respiration rates. Fine-root respiration at the four sites was exponentially related to soil temperature and linearly related to root N concentration and soil moisture availability. Most of the variability in respiration rates was explained by temperature. Differences in soil moisture availability explained temporal variation within sites in respiration rate at a given temperature, whereas differences among sites in respiration rates resulted from site-specific differences in fine-root N concentration. Periodic moisture deficits during 1995 and 1996 were sufficient to cause declines of up to 17% in total growing-season root respiration at affected sites. Estimated reductions in respiration of up to 0.8 Mg C/ha during dry years were equivalent to a significant portion of annual aboveground woody biomass C increment, arguing for the inclusion of soil moisture availability as a predictor of root respiration when modeling C allocation in forest ecosystems.
Drought reduces root respiration in sugar maple forests.
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