Soil carbon flux following pulse precipitation events in the shortgrass steppe

Ecological Research
By: , and 



Pulses of water availability characterize semiarid and arid ecosystems. Most precipitation events in these ecosystems are small (???10 mm), but can stimulate carbon flux. The large proportion of carbon stored belowground and small carbon inputs create the potential for these small precipitation events to have large effects on carbon cycling. Land-use change can modify these effects through alteration of the biota and soil resources. The goal of our research was to determine how small precipitation events (2, 5, and 10 mm) affected the dynamics of soil carbon flux and water loss in previously cultivated Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields and undisturbed shortgrass steppe. Total carbon loss and duration of elevated carbon flux increased as event size increased in all field types. Time since cultivation increased in importance for carbon flux as event size increased. A comparison of water loss rates to carbon flux suggests that water is limiting to carbon flux for the smallest events, but is less limiting for events above 5 mm. We also describe how water availability interacts with temperature in controlling carbon flux rate. We conclude that small precipitation events have the potential for large short-term losses of carbon in the shortgrass steppe. ?? 2009 The Ecological Society of Japan.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Soil carbon flux following pulse precipitation events in the shortgrass steppe
Series title Ecological Research
DOI 10.1007/s11284-009-0651-0
Volume 25
Issue 1
Year Published 2010
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Ecological Research
First page 205
Last page 211
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