To evaluate the effect of understory dwarf bamboo (Sasa senanensis) on soil respiration in forest ecosystems, we compared soil respiration rates between four deciduous broad-leaved forest sites representing two levels of understory Sasa (with and without) and two levels of forest stand age (50-year-old stand and 1-year-old stand after clearcut). The understory Sasa enhances the soil respiration rate both before and after the clearcutting of deciduous broad-leaved forest. The Sasa sites had larger total belowground biomass compared with the non-Sasa sites, which could be attributed to Sasa presence. Our results also suggest that clearcutting decreases temperature-normalized soil respiration rates (R 15) and temperature sensitivity (Q 10) in both Sasa and non-Sasa ecosystems. Clearcutting significantly reduced the fine root biomass of trees and Sasa. The fine roots of trees and Sasa had high specific respiration rates compared with larger roots and rhizomes at Sasa and non-Sasa sites, respectively. Therefore, we hypothesize that the loss of fine roots after clearcutting is responsible for the reduction in soil respiration rate. A comparison with other studies revealed a positive linear relationship between total (tree and Sasa) fine root biomass and R 15, suggesting that fine root biomass controls soil respiration at the landscape scale. The Q 10 value is also likely to be related to fine root biomass, although the relationship was not significant. We conclude that understory Sasa increases belowground biomass, especially fine roots, and the spatial variation in soil respiration at the landscape scale.
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