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Keywords:

  • carbon cycle;
  • Duke FACE;
  • FACTS-1;
  • global climate change;
  • net ecosystem exchange;
  • soil respiration

ABSTRACT

Forest ecosystems release large amounts of carbon to the atmosphere from fine-root respiration (Rr), but the control of this flux and its temperature sensitivity (Q10) are poorly understood. We attempted to: (1) identify the factors limiting this flux using additions of glucose and an electron transport uncoupler (carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone); and (2) improve yearly estimates of Rr by directly measuring its Q10in situ using temperature-controlled cuvettes buried around intact, attached roots. The proximal limits of Rr of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) trees exposed to free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) and N fertilization were seasonally variable; enzyme capacity limited Rr in the winter, and a combination of substrate supply and adenylate availability limited Rr in summer months. The limiting factors of Rr were not affected by elevated CO2 or N fertilization. Elevated CO2 increased annual stand-level Rr by 34% whereas the combination of elevated CO2 and N fertilization reduced Rr by 40%. Measurements of in situ Rr with high temporal resolution detected diel patterns that were correlated with canopy photosynthesis with a lag of 1 d or less as measured by eddy covariance, indicating a dynamic link between canopy photosynthesis and root respiration. These results suggest that Rr is coupled to daily canopy photosynthesis and increases with carbon allocation below ground.