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Data from: Multiple scales of spatial heterogeneity control soil respiration responses to precipitation across a dryland rainfall gradient

Citation

Throop, Heather (2020), Data from: Multiple scales of spatial heterogeneity control soil respiration responses to precipitation across a dryland rainfall gradient, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.fj6q573qp

Abstract

Aims – Soil respiration (Rs) is a major pathway for releasing fixed carbon back to the atmosphere. However, controls over Rs are poorly understood in arid and hyper-arid systems where microbial activity is frequently constrained by moisture. We addressed key uncertainties in Rs: 1) How do short-term rainfall pulses affect Rs at sites that differ in long-term precipitation inputs?, 2) how do Rs responses to short and long-term rainfall differ across soil surfaces?, and 3) how are Rs responses affected by local-scale attributes?

Methods – We measured Rs responses to rainfall pulses over a 48 h period. Working across a climate gradient, we compared Rs responses on two contrasting soil surfaces which both had two vegetation/soil morphology patch types that differed in organic matter inputs and accumulation.

Results – Rates of Rs were low, but highly responsive to rainfall pulses. Stimulation of Rs by rainfall was generally greater in areas with higher annual rainfall. However, patterns for Rs responses to rainfall differed greatly on the two soil surfaces and among patch types.

Conclusions – The strong role of patch type and soil surface in controlling Rs points to the need to carefully consider small-scale spatial and temporal variation when interpreting dryland biogeochemical fluxes.

Methods

See manuscript details.

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-0953864

US Fulbright Commission

Environmental Investment Fund, Namibia

Environmental Investment Fund, Namibia