Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2017, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (3): 301-310.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2016.0326

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Responses of soil respiration with biocrust cover to water and temperature in the southeastern edge of Tengger Desert, Northwest China

Chao GUAN1,2, Peng ZHANG1,*(), Xin-Rong LI1   

  1. 1Shapotou Desert Research and Experimental Station, Northwest Institute of Eco-environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
    2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Online:2017-04-12 Published:2017-03-10
  • Contact: Peng ZHANG
  • About author:

    KANG Jing-yao(1991-), E-mail:


Aims Soil respiration of the lands covered by biocrusts is an important component in the carbon cycle of arid, semi-arid and dry-subhumid ecosystems (drylands hereafter), and one of the key processes in the carbon cycle of drylands. However, the responses of the rate of soil respiration with biocrusts to water and temperature are uncertain in the investigations of the effects of experimental warming and precipitation patterns on CO2 fluxes in biocrust dominated ecosystems. The objectives of this study were to investigate the relationships of carbon release from the biocrust-soil systems with water and temperature in drylands. Methods Intact soil columns with two types of biocrusts, including moss and algae-lichen crusts, were collected in a natural vegetation area in the southeastern fringe of the Tengger Desert. Open top chambers were used to simulate climate warming, and the soil respiration rate was measured under warming and non-warming treatments using an automated soil respiration system (LI-8150). Important findings Over the whole observational period (from April 2016 to July 2016), soil respiration rates varied from -0.16 to 4.69 μmol·m-2·s-1 for the moss crust-covered soils and from -0.21 to 5.72 μmol·m-2·s-1 for the algae-lichen crust-covered soils, respectively, under different rainfall events (the precipitations between 0.3-30.0 mm). The mean soil respiration rate of the moss crust-covered soils is 1.09 μmol·m-2·s-1, which is higher than that of the algae-lichen crust-covered soils of 0.94 μmol·m-2·s-1. The soil respiration rate of the two types of biocrust-covered soils showed different dynamics and spatial heterogeneities with rainfall events, and were positively correlated with precipitation. The mean soil respiration rate of the biocrust-covered soils without warming was 1.24 μmol·m-2·s-1, significantly higher than that with warming treatments of 0.79 μmol·m-2·s-1 (p < 0.05). By increasing the evaporation of soil moisture, the simulated warming impeded soil respiration. In most cases, soil temperature and soil respiration rate displayed a similar single-peak curve during the diel cycle. Our results show an approximately two hours’ lag between soil temperature at 5 cm depth and the soil respiration rate of the biocrust-covered soils during the diel cycle.

Key words: respiration, biocrust, precipitation patterns, stimulated warming

Fig. 1

Precipitation (P) during the experiment and the effects of warming on soil temperature (T) at 5 cm depth (mean ± SE). C, control; W, warming."

Fig. 2

Changes in soil respiration rate of moss crust-covered soils with rainfall events (mean ± SE). C, control; W, warming. P, precipitation."

Fig. 3

Changes in soil respiration rate of algae-lichen crust-covered soils with rainfall events (mean ± SE). C, control; W, warming. P, precipitation."

Fig. 4

Effects of warming on soil respiration rate of biocrust-covered soils (mean ± SE). Different letters indicate significant differences between treatments (p < 0.05). A, Moss crusts. B, Algae-lichen crusts. C, control; W, warming."

Fig. 5

Relationships of soil respiration rate of biocrust-covers soils with precipitation. **, p < 0.01. A, Moss crusts. B, Algae-lichen crusts. C, control; W, warming."

Fig. 6

Soil temperature at 5 cm depth and the soil respiration rate of moss crust-covered soils. T, temperature. R, respiration rate."

Fig. 7

Soil temperature at 5 cm depth and the soil respiration rate of algae-lichen crust-covered soils. T, temperature. R, respiration rate."

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