Sensitivity of decomposition rates of soil organic matter with respect to simultaneous changes in temperature and moisture
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Journal of advances in modeling earth systems
, p. 335-356
University of Antwerp
The sensitivity of soil organic matter decomposition to global environmental change is a topic of prominent relevance for the global carbon cycle. Decomposition depends on multiple factors that are being altered simultaneously as a result of global environmental change; therefore, it is important to study the sensitivity of the rates of soil organic matter decomposition with respect to multiple and interacting drivers. In this manuscript, we present an analysis of the potential response of decomposition rates to simultaneous changes in temperature and moisture. To address this problem, we first present a theoretical framework to study the sensitivity of soil organic matter decomposition when multiple driving factors change simultaneously. We then apply this framework to models and data at different levels of abstraction: (1) to a mechanistic model that addresses the limitation of enzyme activity by simultaneous effects of temperature and soil water content, the latter controlling substrate supply and oxygen concentration for microbial activity; (2) to different mathematical functions used to represent temperature and moisture effects on decomposition in biogeochemical models. To contrast model predictions at these two levels of organization, we compiled different data sets of observed responses in field and laboratory studies. Then we applied our conceptual framework to: (3) observations of heterotrophic respiration at the ecosystem level; (4) laboratory experiments looking at the response of heterotrophic respiration to independent changes in moisture and temperature; and (5) ecosystem-level experiments manipulating soil temperature and water content simultaneously.