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Effects of substrate availability on the temperature sensitivity of soil organic matter decomposition

Authors


Alexander Gershenson, Department of Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA, tel. +1 831 252 3514, fax +1 408 924 5477, e-mail: agersh@gmail.com

Abstract

Soil carbon is a major component in the global carbon cycle. Understanding the relationship between environmental changes and rates of soil respiration is critical for projecting changes in soil carbon fluxes in a changing climate. Although significant attention has been focused on the temperature sensitivity of soil organic matter decomposition, the factors that affect this temperature sensitivity are still debated. In this study, we examined the effects of substrate availability on the temperature sensitivity of soil respiration in several different kinds of soils. We found that increased substrate availability had a significant positive effect on temperature sensitivity, as measured by soil Q10 values, and that this effect was inversely proportional to original substrate availability. This observation can be explained if decomposition follows Michaelis–Menten kinetics. The simple Q10 model was most appropriate in soils with high substrate availability.

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