We examined the relationship between soil respiration rate and environmental determinants in three types of tropical forest ecosystem-primary forest, secondary forest, and an oil palm plantation in the Pasoh Forest Reserve on the Malaysian Peninsula. In August 2000, the soil respiration rate and environmental factors (soil temperature, soil water content, soil C and N contents, biomass of fine roots, and microbes) were measured at 12-16 points in research quadrats. Soil respiration rates were 831 ± 480, 1104 ± 995, 838 ± 143, 576 ± 374, and 966 ± 578 (mean ± S.D.) mg CO2 m-2 h-1 in the primary forest canopy and gap site, secondary forest canopy and gap site, and oil palm plantation, respectively. Although the mean soil respiration rates in the three forest ecosystems did not differ significantly, differences were evident in the environmental factors affecting the soil respiration. The major causes of spatial variation in soil respiration were fine root biomass, soil water content, and soil C content in the primary and secondary forests and oil palm plantation, respectively.
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