Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2010, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (5): 601-610.DOI: 10.3773/j.issn.1005-264x.2010.05.014

• Review • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Review of response mechanism of soil respiration to rainfall

WANG Yi-Dong1,2; WANG Hui-Min1*; MA Ze-Qing1; LI Qing-Kang1; SHI Lei-Lei1,2; and XU Fei1,2   

  1. 1Qianyanzhou Ecological Station, Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China;
    2Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2009-07-04 Revised:2010-02-24 Online:2010-05-01 Published:2010-05-01
  • Contact: WANG Hui-Min

Abstract: Soil respiration is an important issue in research on regional carbon budget and global change. Rainfall, which acts as an important disturbance to soil respiration, leads to large uncertainties in estimating carbon exchange between soil and the atmosphere, especially in arid and semiarid regions. Although significant progress on the response of soil respiration to rainfall has been made, considerable controversies on its mechanism still exist. There are two different mechanisms to interpret the “Birch effect”, which is characterized by a strong soil CO2 emission soon after a rainfall event: “the substrate supply change mechanism” and “microbial stress mechanism”. We review progress in the study of the response of soil respiration to rainfall and summarize the responses of different components of soil respiration to the changes induced by rainfall, including physical replacement and blockage, substrate supply change, activity change of root system and microbes and changes in the structure and function of the microbial community. We also point out four important aspects to be considered in the future: 1) evaluating the function of “substrate supply change mechanism” and “microbial stress mechanism” to the “Birch effect”, 2) quantifying the response of soil respiration to rainfall based on different components, 3) modeling and estimating the response of soil respiration to rainfall on different temporal and spatial scales, and 4) evaluating the possible effects of N and H+ from rainfall on soil respiration.