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Smithsonian scientists report new carbon dioxide study

ational Academy of Sciences.

Working at a long-term Smithsonian experimental CO2 site in a Florida scrub oak ecosystem, the researchers compared core samples from test plots that had been exposed to six years of elevated CO2 and core samples from plots exposed to ambient CO2. They also performed laboratory experiments on soils from both elevated and ambient plots to understand microbial composition and activity within each type of soil.

Their study reveals that added CO2 has a so-called "priming effect," stimulating certain microbes and increasing decomposition. Soils exposed to the elevated CO2 had higher relative abundances of fungi and higher activities of a soil carbon-degrading enzyme. As the fungi and enzymes decompose the organic matter in the soil, they free up stored carbon and release it through respiration as CO2. With the priming effect of added CO2, more soil decomposition results in higher respiration rates, an overall loss of carbon and an increase in the release of CO2 from the soil.


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12-Mar-2007


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