Partitioning longleaf pine soil respiration into its heterotrophic and autotrophic components through root exclusion

Althea A. ArchMiller, Lisa J. Samuelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Rapid and accurate estimations of the heterotrophic and autotrophic components of total soil respiration (Rs) are important for calculating forest carbon budgets and for understanding carbon dynamics associated with natural and management-related disturbances. The objective of this study was to use deep (60 cm) root exclusion tubes and paired control (i.e., no root exclusion) collars to estimate heterotrophic respiration (Rh) and Rs, respectively, in three 26-year-old longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) stands in western Georgia. Root biomass was measured in root exclusion tubes and control collars after 102-104 days of incubation and fine root biomass loss from root exclusion was used to quantify root decay. Mean Rs from control collars was 3.3 micromol·CO2·m-2· s-1. Root exclusion tubes decreased Rs, providing an estimate of Rh. Mean Rh was 2.7 micromol·CO2·m-2· s-1 when uncorrected by pretreatment variation, root decay, or soil moisture compared to 2.1 micromol·CO2·m-2· s-1 when Rh was corrected for root decay. The corresponding ratio of Rh to Rs ranged from 66% to 82%, depending on the estimation method. This study provides an estimate of Rh in longleaf pine forests, and demonstrates the potential for deep root exclusion tubes to provide relatively rapid assessments (i.e., ~40 days post-treatment) of Rh in similar forests. The range in Rh to Rs is comparable to other reports for similar temperate coniferous ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number39
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by the authors.


  • Pinus palustris
  • Roots
  • Soil CO efflux
  • Soil moisture


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