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Diel patterns of soil respiration in a tropical forest after Hurricane Wilma


Hurricanes are infrequent disturbances that affect tropical ecosystems and cause obvious damage on aboveground variables, but their impact on soil respiration is unclear. This study is the first attempt to continuously measure soil CO2 concentrations in a seasonally dry tropical forest to describe diel patterns of soil CO2 and respiration. Here we used solid-state CO2 sensors and the gradient flux method to calculate soil respiration following the unexpected pass of hurricaneWilma at the Yucata´n Peninsula, Mexico. Mean annual soil respiration for the year following the hurricane was 10.4 mmol CO2m-2 s-1 with a cumulative soil respiration of 3821 g CO2 m-2 a-1. Soil CO2 concentrations returned to prehurricane levels after 6 months at 16 cm depth, however, soil CO2 remained higher at 2 and 16 cm depth 1 year after the event. Contrary to previous studies, our results showed that soil respiration was 18% higher 1 year after the hurricane than during the same dates before the event. Diel patterns of soil respiration were decoupled from soil temperature with higher values at night between 2400 and 0600 h. Between 67 and 70% of total soil respiration was produced in the 2–8 cm layer, and this contribution was relatively constant across the sampled year and before the hurricane.We found seasonal shifts in the amplitude and shape and of diel hysteresis effects of soil respiration suggesting that other biophysical mechanisms regulate daily patterns of soil respiration other than soil temperature alone in this tropical forest.

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