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- In the field, dark respiration rates are greatest in cores from more northerly locations. This is due in part to greater amounts of dwarf shrub biomass in the more northerly cores, but also to differences in soil organic matter quality. Laboratory incubations of these soils under common conditions show some evidence for greater pools of available carbon in soils from more northerly tundra sites, although the most northerly site does not fit this pattern for reasons which are unclear at this time. While field measurements of cores transplanted among different vegetation types at the same location (Toolik Lake) show relatively small differences in whole ecosystem carbon flux, laboratory incubation of these same soils shows that there are large differences in soil respiration rates under common conditions. This is presumably due to differences in organic matter quality. Microenvironmental site factors (temperature, soil moisture, degree of anaerobiosis, etc.) may be responsible for evening out these differences in the field. These site factors, which differ with slope, aspect, and drainage within a given location along the latitudinal gradient, appear to exert at least as strong a control over carbon fluxes as do macroclimatic factors among sites across the latitudinal gradient. While our field measurements indicate that, in the short term, warming will tend to increase ecosystem losses Of CO2 via respiration more than they will increase plant gross assimilation, the degree to which different topographically-defined plant communities will respond is likely to vary.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 19980003337.
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