To better understand the effects of local topography and climate on soil respiration, we conducted field measurements and soil incubation experiments to investigate various factors influencing spatial and temporal variations in soil respiration for six mixed-hardwood forest slopes in the midst of the Korean Peninsula. Soil respiration and soil water content (SWC) were significantly greater (P=0.09 and 0.003, respectively) on north-facing slopes compared to south-facing slopes, while soil temperature was not significantly different between slopes (P>0.5). At all sites, soil temperature was the primary factor driving temporal variations in soil respiration (r2=0.84–0.96) followed by SWC, which accounted for 30% of soil respiration spatial and temporal variability. Results from both field measurements and incubation experiments indicate that variations in soil respiration due to aspect can be explained by a convex-shaped function relating SWC to normalized soil respiration rates. Annual soil respiration estimates (1070–1246 g C m−2 yr−1) were not closely related to mean annual air temperatures among sites from different climate regimes. When soils from each site were incubated at similar temperatures in a laboratory, respiration rates for mineral soils from wetter and cooler sites were significantly higher than those for the drier and warmer sites (n=4, P<0.01). Our results indicate that the application of standard temperature-based Q10 models to estimate soil respiration rates for larger geographic areas covering different aspects or climatic regimes are not adequate unless other factors, such as SWC and total soil nitrogen, are considered in addition to soil temperature.
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