Do plant species influence soil CO2 and N2O fluxes in a diverse tropical forest?

Joost L.M. Van Haren, R. Cosme De Oliveira, Natalia Restrepo-Coupe, Lucy Hutyra, Plinio B. De Camargo, Michael Keller, Scott R. Saleska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


To test whether plant species influence greenhouse gas production in diverse ecosystems, we measured wet season soil CO2 and N 2O fluxes close to ∼300 large (>35 cm in diameter at breast height (DBH)) trees of 15 species at three clay-rich forest sites in central Amazonia. We found that soil CO2 fluxes were 38% higher near large trees than at control sites >10 m away from any tree (P < 0.0001). After adjusting for large tree presence, a multiple linear regression of soil temperature, bulk density, and liana DBH explained 19% of remaining CO 2 flux variability. Soil N2O fluxes adjacent to Caryocar villosum, Lecythis lurida, Schefflera morototoni, and Manilkara huberi were 84%-196% greater than Erisma uncinatum and Vochysia maxima, both Vochysiaceae. Tree species identity was the most important explanatory factor for N 2O fluxes, accounting for more than twice the N2O flux variability as all other factors combined. Two observations suggest a mechanism for this finding: (1) sugar addition increased N2O fluxes near C. villosum twice as much (P < 0.05) as near Vochysiaceae and (2) species mean N2O fluxes were strongly negatively correlated with tree growth rate (P = 0.002). These observations imply that through enhanced belowground carbon allocation liana and tree species can stimulate soil CO2 and N 2O fluxes (by enhancing denitrification when carbon limits microbial metabolism). Alternatively, low N2O fluxes potentially result from strong competition of tree species with microbes for nutrients. Species-specific patterns in CO2 and N2O fluxes demonstrate that plant species can influence soil biogeochemical processes in a diverse tropical forest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberG03010
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Palaeontology


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