Climatic and edaphic controls over the elevational pattern of microbial necromass in subtropical forests

Zhijian Mou, Luhui Kuang, Lingfeng He, Jing Zhang, Xinyu Zhang, Dafeng Hui, Yue Li, Wenjia Wu, Qiming Mei, Xianjin He, Yuanwen Kuang, Jun Wang, Yunqiang Wang, Hans Lambers, Jordi Sardans, Josep Peñuelas, Zhanfeng Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The sequestration of soil organic carbon (SOC) in terrestrial ecosystems is determined by the balance between plant- and microbial-derived carbon inputs and losses through soil respiration. However, a consensus on the elevational patterns of soil microbial necromass and its contribution to SOC is rare, and the information on how climatic and edaphic factors affect the accumulation of microbial necromass remains limited. In this study, soil samples were collected with a 50-m interval along an elevational gradient (200–950 m above sea level) to investigate the effects of climatic and edaphic variability associated with elevation and season on microbial necromass in subtropical forests. The concentration of soil amino sugar was measured by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to characterize soil microbial necromass. Partial least squares path modeling (PLS-PM) was used for testing climatic and edaphic controls over the elevational pattern of microbial necromass. The concentration of soil microbial necromass and its contribution to SOC were affected by elevation and season, with lower concentration and contribution in the wet season than in the dry season. Soil microbial necromass linearly increased or followed a quadratic pattern with elevation, and accounted for 18.9% of SOC on average with a greater contribution from fungal necromass (13.2%) than from bacterial necromass (5.7%). Soil temperature, soil nitrogen and moisture content directly influenced the accumulation of soil microbial necromass with varied effects on fungal and bacterial necromass. Warmer and nutrient-impoverished environments were linked with the depletion of fungal necromass, whereas higher soil moisture and nutrient availability were positively associated with the accumulation of bacterial necromass. Our findings demonstrate that less microbial necromass, especially fungal necromass will accumulate in SOC in response to future climate warming in subtropical forests. Such information is valuable for improving our understanding of the potential impacts of future climatic change on soil carbon cycling in subtropical regions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105707
JournalCatena
Volume207
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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