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Decomposition temperature sensitivity of isolated soil organic matter fractions

Plante, A. F., Conant, R. T., Carlson, R., Greenwood, C. L., Shulman, M.L., Haddix, M. L., Paul, E. A.
2 010
Soil Biology and Biochemistry
The general consensus is that a warming climate will result in the acceleration of soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition, thus acting as a potential positive feedback mechanism. However, the debate over the relative temperature sensitivity of labile versus recalcitrant SOM has not been fully resolved. We isolated acid hydrolysis residues to represent a recalcitrant pool of SOM and particulate organic matter (POM) to represent a labile pool of SOM, and incubated each at different temperatures to determine temperature sensitivity of decomposition. Short-term incubations of POM generated results consistent with published experiments (i.e., greater proportion of C respired and lower Q10 than whole soil), while incubations of acid hydrolysis residues did not. The contrasting results illustrate the difficulty in assessing temperature sensitivity of labile versus stable SOM decomposition, partly because of the inability to quantitatively isolate labile versus stable SOM pools and to be sufficiently certain that respiration responses to temperature are not masked by processes such as enhanced stabilization or microbial inhibition/adaptation. Further study on the temperature sensitivity of decomposition of isolated SOM fractions is necessary to better explain and predict temperature responses of bulk SOM decomposition.
EES Authors: 
Alain F. Plante

Department of Earth and Environmental Science / University of Pennsylvania, 251 Hayden Hall, 240 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6316