Respiration of the belowground parts of vascular plants: Its contribution to total soil respiration on a successional glacier foreland in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard

T. Nakatsubo, Y. Bekku, A. Kume, Hiroshi Koizumi

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As a part of the study on soil carbon flow in a deglaciated area in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard (79°N), we estimated the contribution of the belowground respiration of vascular plants to total soil respiration in August 1996. Four study sites were set up along a primary successional series, ranging from newly deglaciated moraine to older moraine with well-developed vegetation cover. Respiratory activity of the belowground parts (roots + belowground stems) of three dominant species, Salix polaris, Saxifraga oppositifolia and Luzula confusa, was determined under laboratory conditions. The respiratory activity and the Q10 value of the respiration were higher in S. polaris than in the other two species. Total soil respiration rates measured in the field varied widely. The areas with dense vegetation cover tended to show high respiration rates. Belowground respiration of vascular plants was estimated based on the respiratory activity and biomass of the belowground parts at each study site. The contribution to the belowground respiration to total soil respiration was negligible in the early stages of succession. On the other hand, the respiration of the belowground parts contributed to a significant proportion (∼29%) of the total soil respiration in the latter stages of succession.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-59
Number of pages7
JournalPolar Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Oceanography
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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