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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Department Soil Ecology - Prof. Dr. Eva Lehndorff

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Schindlbacher, A; Borken, W; Djukic, I; Brandstätter, C; Spötl, C; Wanek, W: Contribution of carbonate weathering to the CO2 efflux from temperate forest soils, Biogeochemistry, 124, 273-290 (2015), doi:10.1007/s10533-015-0097-0
Temperate forests provide favorable conditions for carbonate bedrock weathering as the soil CO2 partial pressure is high and soil water is regularly available. As a result of weathering, abiotic CO2 can be released and contribute to the soil CO2 efflux. We used the distinct isotopic signature of the abiotic CO2 to estimate its contribution to the total soil CO2 efflux. Soil cores were sampled from forests on dolomite and limestone and were incubated under the exclusion of atmospheric CO2. Efflux and isotopic signatures of CO2 were repeatedly measured of cores containing the whole mineral soil and bedrock material (heterotrophic respiration? CO2 from weathering) and of cores containing only the mineral top-soil layer (A-horizon; heterotrophic respiration). An aliquot of the cores were let dry out during incubation to assess effects of soil moisture. Although the d13C values of the CO2 efflux from the dolomite soil cores were within a narrow range (A-horizon -26.2 ± 0.1 %; whole soil profile wet -25.8 ± 0.1 %; whole soil profile dry -25.5 ± 0.1 %) the CO2 efflux from the separated A-horizons was significantly depleted in 13C when compared to the whole soil profiles (p = 0.015). The abiotic contribution to the total CO2 efflux from the dolomite soil cores was 2.0 ± 0.5 % under wet and 3.4 ± 0.5 % under dry conditions. No abiotic CO2 efflux was traceable from the limestone soil cores. An overall low contribution of CO2 from weathering was affirmed by the amount and 13C signature of the leached dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and the radiocarbon signature of the soil CO2 efflux in the field. Together, our data point towards no more than 1–2 % contribution of abiotic CO2 to the growing season soil CO2 efflux in the field.
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