Variation in below-ground carbon fluxes along a Populus hybridization gradient


Author for correspondence: Dylan Fischer
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  • • Here, soil CO2 efflux, minirhizotron fine root production (FRP), and estimated total below-ground carbon allocation (TBCA) were examined along an elevation and hybridization gradient between two cottonwood species.
  • • FRP was 72% greater under high-elevation Populus angustifolia, but soil CO2 efflux and TBCA were 62% and 94% greater, respectively, under low-elevation stands dominated by Populus fremontii, with a hybrid stand showing intermediate values.
  • • Differences between the responses of FRP, soil CO2 efflux and TBCA may potentially be explained in terms of genetic controls; while plant species and hybridization explained variance in carbon flux, we found only weak correlations of FRP and TBCA with soil moisture, and no correlations with soil temperature or nitrogen availability.
  • • Soil CO2 efflux and TBCA were uncorrelated with FRP, suggesting that, although below-ground carbon fluxes may change along environmental and genetic gradients, major components of below-ground carbon flux may be decoupled.