Elevated CO2 stimulates soil respiration in a FACE wheat field

Elise Pendall, Steven W. Leavitt, Talbot Brooks, Bruce A. Kimball, Paul J. Pinter, Gerhard W. Wall, Robert L. LaMorte, Gabriele Wechsung, Frank Wechsung, Floyd Adamsen, Allan D. Matthias, Thomas L. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Understanding the response of soil carbon (C) dynamics to higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations is critical for evaluating the potential for soil C sequestration on time scales of decades to centuries. Here, we report on changes in soil respiration under Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) where spring wheat was grown in an open field at two CO2 concentrations (ambient and ambient+200 μmol mol-1), under natural meteorological conditions. FACE increased soil respiration rates by 40-70% during the peak of wheat growth. On the FACE plots, stable C isotopic composition of soil CO2 was used to partition the soil CO2 flux into C from rhizosphere respiration and decomposition of pre-existing C. Decomposition contributed 100% of the soil CO2 flux before crop growth commenced, and only 35-45% of the flux at the peak of the growing season. Decomposition rates were not correlated with soil temperature, but rhizosphere respiration rates were strongly correlated with green leaf area index.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-201
Number of pages9
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


  • C cycling
  • C/C
  • CO fertilization
  • Free-Air CO Enrichment
  • Rhizosphere
  • Soil organic matter
  • Soil respiration
  • Stable isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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