The Temperature responses of soil respiration in deserts: A seven desert synthesis

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Deserts remain one of the most under-represented ecosystems in soil respiration syntheses (Lloyd and Taylor 1994; Raich and Potter 1995; Chen and Tian 2005) due to their low productivity, low soil respiration rates, and limited available data (Raich and Potter 1995). However, deserts are important to include in large-scale models because drylands cover a quarter of the earth’s land surface (Reynolds 2001), are expanding in area (Dregne 1983), and are rapidly changing. For example, in addition to tremendous human population growth (Geist and Lambin 2004), deserts are experiencing wide-spread woody plant expansion, which has been associated with increases in productivity (Hibbard et al. 2003), soil fertility (McCulley et al. 2004), deep root biomass (Connin et al. 1997), and soil respiration rates (McCulley et al. 2004). Further, climate change is predicted to increase precipitation variability and potentially exacerbate aridity in some desert systems (Christensen et al. 2007; Seager et al. 2007). Such alterations of the hydrological cycle could significantly impact desert ecosystems given that water is the primary driver of biological activity in deserts (e.g., Noy-Meir 1973). Thus, the combined effects of changes in climate, land use, vegetation cover, and desertification make it critical to better understand and quantify desert ecological processes.


Desert Ecology | Other Earth Sciences | Soil Science