Influence of warming and enchytraeid activities on soil CO2 and CH4 fluxes

Briones, M.J.I.; Poskitt, J.; Ostle, N.. 2004 Influence of warming and enchytraeid activities on soil CO2 and CH4 fluxes. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 36 (11). 1851-1859.

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To determine the sum of ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ effects of climatic change on enchytraeid activity and C fluxes from an organic soil we assessed the influence of temperature (4, 10 and 15 °C incubations) on enchytraeid populations and soil CO2 and CH4 fluxes over 116 days. Moisture was maintained at 60% of soil dry weight during the experimental period and measurements of enchytraeid biomass and numbers, and CO2 and CH4 fluxes were made after 3, 16, 33, 44, 65, 86 and 116 days. Enchytraeid population numbers and biomass increased in all temperature treatments with the greatest increase produced at 15 °C (to over threefold initial values by day 86). Results also showed that enchytraeid activity increased CO2 fluxes by 10.7±4.5, 3.4±4.0 and 26.8±2.6% in 4, 10 and 15 °C treatments, respectively, with the greatest CO2 production observed at 15 °C for the entire 116 day incubation period (P<0.05). The soil respiratory quotient analyses at lower temperatures (i.e. 4–10 °C) gave a Q10 of 1.7 and 1.9 with and without enchytraeids, respectively. At temperatures above 10 °C (i.e. 10–15 °C) Q10 significantly increased (P<0.01) and was 25% greater in the presence of enchytraeids (Q10=3.4) than without (Q10=2.6). In contrast to CO2 production, no significant relationships were observed between net CH4 fluxes and temperature and only time showed a significant effect on CH4 production (P<0.01). Total soil CO2 production was positively linked with enchytraeid biomass and mean soil CO2–C production was 77.01±6.05 CO2–C μg mg enchytraeid tissue−1 day−1 irrespective of temperature treatment. This positive relationship was used to build a two step regression model to estimate the effects of temperature on enchytraeid biomass and soil CO2 respiration in the field. Predictions of potential CO2 production were made using enchytraeid biomass data obtained in the field from two upland grassland sites (Sourhope and Great Dun Fell at the Moor House Nature Reserve, both in the UK). The findings of this work suggest that a 5 °C increase in atmospheric temperature above mean ambient temperature could have the potential to produce a significant increase in enchytraeid biomass resulting in a near twofold increase in soil CO2 release from both soil types. The interaction between temperature and soil biology will clearly be an important determinant of soil respiration responses to global warming.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biogeochemistry > BG01 Measuring and modelling trace gas, aerosol and carbon > BG01.2 Carbon
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: _ Ecological Processes in Freshwater & Soils
ISSN: 0038-0717
Additional Keywords: Climate change, Enchytraeids, Greenhouse gas, Soil respiration, Q10
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Biology and Microbiology
Ecology and Environment
Earth Sciences
Date made live: 17 Aug 2009 13:20 +0 (UTC)

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