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Seasonal Changes in Soil Respiration with An Elevation Gradient in Abies nephrolepis (Trautv.) Maxim. Forests in North China

Zhijie Tian1,*, Xueying Jia2, Tingting Liu1, Eryan Ma1, Lamei Xue1, Yanqiu Hu1, Qingrong Zheng1

1 Xinzhou Teachers University, Xinzhou, 034000, China
2 School of Geography Science, Taiyuan Normal University, Taiyuan, 030619, China

* Corresponding Author: Zhijie Tian. Email:

(This article belongs to this Special Issue: The Effect of Soil Quality Degradation on the Plant Growth, Quality and Food Safety in Subtropical Agroforestry Ecosystems)

Phyton-International Journal of Experimental Botany 2022, 91(7), 1543-1556.


Soil respiration (Rs) plays an important role in regulating carbon cycle of terrestrial ecosystems and presents temporal and spatial heterogeneity. Abies nephrolepis is a tree species that prefers the cold and wet environment and is mainly distributed in Northeast Asia and East Asia. The Rs variations of Abies nephrolepis forests communities are generally environmental-sensitive and can effectively reflect the adaptive responses of forest ecosystems to climate change. In this study, the growing-seasonal variations of Rs, soil temperature, soil water content and soil properties of Abies nephrolepis forests were analyzed along an altitude gradient (2000, 2100, 2200 and 2300 m) over two years on Wutai Mountain in North China. As the main results showed, soil respiration keeps the same change trend as soil temperature and reached peaks in July at 2000 m in 2019 and 2020. During 26th July to 25th October in 2019 and 27th May to 23rd October in 2020, on the whole, the soil temperature independently explained 76.2% of Rs variations while the soil water content independently explained 26.8%. Soil temperature and soil water content jointly explained 81.8% of Rs variations. Soil properties explained 61.8% and 69.6% of Rs variation in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Soil organic carbon content and soil enzyme activity had the signifi- cant (P < 0.01) negative and positive relationships, respectively, with Rs variation. With altitudes evaluated from 2000 to 2300 m, soil respiration temperature sensitivity (Q10) and the soil organic carbon content increased by 12.4% and 10.4%, respectively, while invertase activity, cellulase activity and urease activity dropped by 41.2%, 29.45% and 38.19%, respectively. The results demonstrate that (1) soil temperature is the major factor affecting Rs variations in Abies nephrolepis forests; (2) weakened microbial carbon metabolism in high-altitude areas results in the accumulation of soil organic carbon; (3) with a higher Q1, forest ecosystems in high-altitude areas might be more easily affected by climate change; (4) climate warming might accelerate the consumption of soil organic carbon sink in forest ecosystems, especially in high-altitude areas.


Cite This Article

Tian, Z., Jia, X., Liu, T., Ma, E., Xue, L. et al. (2022). Seasonal Changes in Soil Respiration with An Elevation Gradient in Abies nephrolepis (Trautv.) Maxim. Forests in North China. Phyton-International Journal of Experimental Botany, 91(7), 1543–1556.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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