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Soil biology and warming play a key role in the release of 'old C' from organic soils

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Publication details

JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
DatePublished - Jun 2010
Issue number6
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)960-967
Original languageEnglish


A radiocarbon approach was used to investigate the roles of temperature and soil fauna activity in the turnover of 'old' non-labile carbon in a peatland ecosystem. We investigated the impacts of enchytraeids on carbon turnover in two different soil layers, with different incorporation of the 'bomb' peak, when incubated at two different temperatures. Results showed that, in agreement with previous studies, warmer temperatures promoted reproduction rates of enchytraeids, with the top layer supporting higher animal densities and biomass. With independence of the animal treatment, soil respiration in the top 5 cm was four times higher than in the deeper layer suggesting that decomposition was greater in the upper layer, with the response being greater at the highest temperature treatment. Furthermore, independent of temperature, the presence of enchytraeids in the top layer significantly enhanced the release of non-labile C as DOC. Similarly, at the bottom layer, 'older' C sources were mobilised in response to warming and a greater amount of pre-bomb carbon was released into the soil solution at 20 degrees C when the worms were present. A strong positive link between the ages of the C assimilated by the animals and released through mineralization suggests an important role of soil biology in the mobilisation of the older C pools in soils and should be taken into account in developing global C models to predict the response of soil C dynamics to climate change. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Carbon stocks, Climate change, CO2, DOC, Enchytraeid worms, Soil carbon, Temperature sensitivity, C-14-Bomb, CLIMATE-CHANGE, COGNETTIA SPHAGNETORUM, CARBON DYNAMICS, FOREST SOIL, MATTER, RESPIRATION, TEMPERATURE, C-14, ENCHYTRAEIDS, LITTER

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