Sensitivity of soil respiration to variability in soil moisture and temperature in a humid tropical forest.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0080965
Precipitation and temperature are important drivers of soil respiration. The role of moisture and temperature are generally explored at seasonal or inter-annual timescales; however, significant variability also occurs on hourly to daily time-scales. We used small (1.54 m(2)), throughfall exclusion shelters to evaluate the role soil moisture and temperature as temporal controls on soil CO2 efflux from a humid tropical forest in Puerto Rico. We measured hourly soil CO2 efflux, temperature and moisture in control and exclusion plots (n = 6) for 6-months. The variance of each time series was analyzed using orthonormal wavelet transformation and Haar-wavelet coherence. We found strong negative coherence between soil moisture and soil respiration in control plots corresponding to a two-day periodicity. Across all plots, there was a significant parabolic relationship between soil moisture and soil CO2 efflux with peak soil respiration occurring at volumetric soil moisture of approximately 0.375 m(3)/m(3). We additionally found a weak positive coherence between CO2 and temperature at longer time-scales and a significant positive relationship between soil temperature and CO2 efflux when the analysis was limited to the control plots. The coherence between CO2 and both temperature and soil moisture were reduced in exclusion plots. The reduced CO2 response to temperature in exclusion plots suggests that the positive effect of temperature on CO2 is constrained by soil moisture availability.