Modeling microbial dynamics and heterotrophic soil respiration: Effect of climate change

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Microbial respiration is the largest flux of carbon (C) out of the soil. The responses of microbes to climate change will determine the amplitude of the feedbacks between the carbon cycle and climate. Carbon models linking soil organic carbon turnover and microbial ecophysiology can predict better transient and long-term responses of soil C stocks and respiration to climate change. Yet microbial models are not used in Earth system models. We propose here a roadmap for how to build simple mechanistic microbial carbon models sensitive to climate conditions and provide a toolbox of functions and parameters used in current models. We show that they can predict general empirical patterns of responses to warming and give better predictions of global C stocks. Because there is still a gap to fill in C stock global distributions, we discuss directions to complexify microscale microbial models and the challenges to tackle when scaling them up from the micro- to the macroscale. We aim for this overview to clarify the properties and utilities of microbial models, and to expose the opportunities for future work to better assess the uncertainty of future carbon cycle projections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBiogeochemical Cycles
Subtitle of host publicationEcological Drivers and Environmental Impact
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781119413332
ISBN (Print)9781119413301
StatePublished - Mar 27 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change
  • First-order kinetics models
  • Four-pool microbial model
  • Heterotrophic soil respiration
  • Microbial dynamics modeling
  • Microscale decomposition processes
  • Soil microbial models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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