Global cross-biome patterns of soil respiration responses to individual and interactive effects of nitrogen addition, altered precipitation, and warming

Ngaba, Mbezele Junior Yannick; Uwiragiye, Yves; Bol, Roland; Vries, Wim de; Jian, Jinshi; Zhou, Jianbin


Anthropogenic activities have increased atmospheric N, precipitation, and temperature events in terrestrial ecosystems globally, with N deposition increasing by 3- to 5-fold during the previous century. Despite decades of scientific research, no consensus has been achieved on the impact of climate conditions on soil respiration (Rs). Here, we reconstructed 110 published studies across diverse biomes, magnitudes, and driving variables to evaluate how Rs responds to N addition, altered precipitation (both enhanced and reduced precipitation or precipitation changes), and warming. Our findings show that N addition significantly increased Rs by 44 % in forests and decreased it by 19 % and 26 % in croplands and grasslands, respectively (P < 0.05). In forests and croplands, altered precipitation significantly increased Rs by 51 % and 17 % (all, P < 0.05), respectively, whereas impacts on grassland were insignificant. In comparison, warming stimulated Rs by 62 % in forests but inhibited it by 10 % in croplands (all, P < 0.05), whereas impacts on grassland were again insignificant. In addition, across all biomes, the responses of Rs to altered precipitation and warming followed a Gaussian response, increasing up to a threshold of 1800 mm and 25 °C, respectively, above which respiration rates decreased with further increases in precipitation and temperature. Our work suggests that the dual interaction of warming × altered precipitation promotes belowground CO2 emission, thus enhancing global warming. In general, the interactive effect of N addition × altered precipitation decreases Rs. Soil moisture was identified as a primary driver of Rs. Given these findings, we recommend future research on warming vs. changed precipitation to better forecast and understand the interaction between Rs and climate change.