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Soil CO2 efflux and soil carbon balance of a tropical rubber plantation

Satakhum D., Gay F., Chairungsee N., Kasemsap P., Chantuma P., Thanisawanyangkura S., Thaler P., Epron D.. 2013. Ecological Research, 28 (6) : p. 969-979.

DOI: 10.1007/s11284-013-1079-0

Natural rubber is a valuable source of income in many tropical countries and rubber trees are increasingly planted in tropical areas, where they contribute to land-use changes that impact the global carbon cycle. However, little is known about the carbon balance of these plantations. We studied the soil carbon balance of a 15-year-old rubber plantation in Thailand and we specifically explored the seasonal dynamic of soil CO2 efflux (F S) in relation to seasonal changes in soil water content (W S) and soil temperature (T S), assessed the partitioning of F S between autotrophic (R A) and heterotrophic (R H) sources in a root trenching experiment and estimated the contribution of aboveground and belowground carbon inputs to the soil carbon budget. A multiplicative model combining both T S and W S explained 58 % of the seasonal variation of F S. Annual soil CO2 efflux averaged 1.88 kg C m?2 year?1 between May 2009 and April 2011 and R A and R H accounted for respectively 63 and 37 % of F S, after corrections of F S measured on trenched plots for root decomposition and for difference in soil water content. The 4-year average annual aboveground litterfall was 0.53 kg C m?2 year?1 while a conservative estimate of belowground carbon input into the soil was much lower (0.17 kg C m?2 year?1). Our results highlighted that belowground processes (root and rhizomicrobial respiration and the heterotrophic respiration related to belowground carbon input into the soil) have a larger contribution to soil CO2 efflux (72 %) than aboveground litter decomposition.

Mots-clés : hevea brasiliensis; plantations; cycle du carbone; zone tropicale; variation saisonnière; matière organique du sol; stockage; respiration du sol; teneur en eau du sol; température du sol; biomasse; litière végétale; système racinaire; dégradation; séquestration du carbone; thaïlande

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