Land use and environmental factors influencing soil surface CO2 flux and microbial biomass in natural and managed ecosystems in southern Wisconsin

Author: Wagai, R.; Brye, K.R.; Gower, S.T.; Norman, J.M.; Bundy, L.G.

Description: Many of the native prairies in southern Wisconsin, and the midwestern United States in general, have been replaced by conventional till (chisel plow) and no-tillage corn agroecosystems. However, knowledge of the influence of land use change on the structure and function of ecosystems is incomplete. Soil surface CO2 flux is a major transfer of carbon from terrestrial ecosystems to the atmosphere and varies greatly among vegetation types. We measured soil surface CO2 flux and microbial biomass in tilled and no-till corn agroecosystems and a restored prairie ecosystem, examined the influence of various environmental factors on soil surface CO2 flux in these ecosystems, and estimated annual soil surface CO2 flux for the natural and managed ecosystems. Soil surface CO2 flux is significantly greater for prairie and conventional tilled corn than for no-till corn in the spring, greater for prairie than tilled and no-till corn from July to early October, and is similar for all three ecosystems in the late fall and winter. Soil surface CO2 flux is positively correlated to soil temperature at 10 cm for all three ecosystems (r2=0.43-0.60, P<0.001), but is only weakly correlated to soil moisture. Using an empirical model to estimate soil surface CO2 flux from 10 cm soil temperatures, we estimate annual soil surface CO2 fluxes of 508, 535 and 719 (g C m-2 y-1) for the tilled and no-till corn and restored prairie ecosystems, respectively, demonstrating that land use practices significantly affect soil surface CO2 flux.

Subject headings: Soil; CO2; Carbon dioxide; Land use change; Ecosystems; Flux; Microbial biomass; Prairie; Conventional agriculture

Publication year: 1998

Journal or book title: Soil Biology and Biochemistry

Volume: 30

Issue: 12

Pages: 1501-1509

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Type: Journal Article

Serial number: 1155