You are here

Harvard Forest Data Archive


Partitioning the Components of Soil Respiration in a Trenching Experiment at Harvard Forest 2009-2010

Related Publications



  • Lead: Jim Tang, Kathleen Savage, Eric Davidson
  • Investigators:
  • Contact: Information Manager
  • Start date: 2009
  • End date: 2010
  • Status: complete
  • Location: Prospect Hill Tract (Harvard Forest)
  • Latitude: +42.539 to +42.542 degrees
  • Longitude: -72.185 to -72.180 degrees
  • Elevation: 355 to 380 meter
  • Datum: WGS84
  • Taxa:
  • Release date: 2023
  • Language: English
  • EML file: knb-lter-hfr.243.6
  • DOI: digital object identifier
  • EDI: data package
  • DataONE: data package
  • Related links:
  • Study type: short-term measurement
  • Research topic: forest-atmosphere exchange
  • LTER core area: mineral cycling
  • Keywords: carbon cycling, roots, soil moisture, soil respiration, soil temperature
  • Abstract:

    Total soil respiration (Rt) is a combination of autotrophic (Ra) and heterotrophic respiration (Rh). Several methods have been developed to tease out the components of Rt, such as isotopic analyses, and removing Ra input through tree girdling and root exclusion experiments. Trenching involves severing the rooting system surrounding a plot to remove the Ra component within the plot. This method has some potential limitations. Reduced water uptake in trenched plots could change soil water content, which is one of the environmental controllers of Rt in many ecosystems. Eliminating root inputs could reduce heterotrophic decomposition of SOM via lack of priming. On the other hand, the severed dead roots may temporarily increase available carbon substrate for Rh. We utilized the trenching method to partition the autotrophic and heterotrophic components of soil respiration in an oak dominated forest with the footprint of the LPH tower.

  • Methods:

    Automated Chamber Respiration

    Within the footprint of the LPH eddy covariance tower, automated respiration chambers were utilized in conjunction with the trenching method to partition Rt into its components, Rh and Ra. In the late fall of 2008, a trench was dug (to 1m depth) around a 5x5m area, severing all roots leading into the treatment plot. Plastic tarp was placed along the walls of the trench and then backfilled. Three automated chambers were placed in each of the trenched and un-trenched plot. Fluxes, along with soil temperature and moisture, were measured at hourly rates from early spring through late fall of 2009 and 2010. Measurements from the non-trenched plot represent the combined Rh and Ra components, Rt. Fluxes from the trenched plot represent, Rh and the difference (Rt-Rh) represents Ra.

  • Organization: Harvard Forest. 324 North Main Street, Petersham, MA 01366, USA. Phone (978) 724-3302. Fax (978) 724-3595.

  • Project: The Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program examines ecological dynamics in the New England region resulting from natural disturbances, environmental change, and human impacts. (ROR).

  • Funding: National Science Foundation LTER grants: DEB-8811764, DEB-9411975, DEB-0080592, DEB-0620443, DEB-1237491, DEB-1832210.

  • Use: This dataset is released to the public under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (No Rights Reserved). Please keep the dataset creators informed of any plans to use the dataset. Consultation with the original investigators is strongly encouraged. Publications and data products that make use of the dataset should include proper acknowledgement.

  • License: Creative Commons Zero v1.0 Universal (CC0-1.0)

  • Citation: Tang J, Savage K, Davidson E. 2023. Partitioning the Components of Soil Respiration in a Trenching Experiment at Harvard Forest 2009-2010. Harvard Forest Data Archive: HF243 (v.6). Environmental Data Initiative:

Detailed Metadata

hf243-01: soil respiration

  1. datetime: date and time
  2. year: year
  3. doy: day of year (unit: nominalDay / missing value: NA)
  4. time: time
  5. doy.time: day of year, time (unit: nominalDay / missing value: NA)
  6. carbon.flux: carbon flux (unit: milligramPerMeterSquaredPerHour / missing value: NA)
  7. treatment: treatment
    • T: trenched
    • C: control
  8. soil.temp.10: soil temperature at 10 cm (unit: celsius / missing value: NA)
  9. soil.mois.2.8: percent soil moisture at 2-8 cm (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  10. soil.mois.8.16: percent soil moisture at 8-16 cm (unit: dimensionless / missing value: NA)
  11. airt.temp: air temperature (unit: celsius / missing value: NA)