Response of soil CO2 efflux to water manipulation in a tallgrass prairie ecosystem

Xiaozhong Liu, Shiqiang Wan, Bo Su, Dafeng Hui, Yiqi Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

246 Scopus citations


Although CO2 efflux plays a critical role in carbon exchange between the biosphere and atmosphere, our understanding of its regulation by soil moisture is rather limited. This study was designed to examine the relationship between soil CO2 efflux and soil moisture in a natural ecosystem by taking advantage of the historically long drought period from 29 July to 21 September 2000 in the southern Central Great Plain, USA. At the end of August when soil moisture content at the top 50 mm was reduced to less than 50 g kg-1 gravimetrically, we applied 8 levels of water treatments (simulated to rainfall of 0, 10, 25, 50, 100, 150, 200, and 300 mm) with three replicates to 24 plots in a Tallgrass Prairie ecosystem in Central Oklahoma, USA. In order to quantify root-free soil CO2 efflux, we applied the same 8 levels of water treatments to 24 500-mm soil columns using soil from field adjacent to the experimental plots. We characterized dynamic patterns of soil moisture and soil CO2 efflux over the experimental period of 21 days. Both soil moisture content and CO2 efflux showed dramatic increases immediately after the water addition, followed by a gradual decline. The time courses in response to water treatments are well described by Y = Y0 + ate-bt, where Y is either soil moisture or CO2 efflux, t is time, Y0, a, and b are coefficients. Among the 8 water treatments, the maximal soil CO2 efflux rate occurred at the 50 mm water level in the field and 100 mm in the root-free soil 1 day after the treatment. The maximal soil CO2 efflux gradually shifted to higher water levels as the experiment continued. We found the relationship between soil CO2 efflux and soil moisture using the data from the 21-day experiment was highly scattered, suggesting complex mechanisms determining soil CO2 efflux by soil moisture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-223
Number of pages11
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Root-free soil
  • Soil CO efflux
  • Soil moisture
  • Tallgrass Prairie
  • Water additions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Response of soil CO2 efflux to water manipulation in a tallgrass prairie ecosystem'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this