Similar response of labile and resistant soil organic matter pools to changes in temperature

Changming Fang, Pete Smith, J B Moncrieff, Joanne Ursula Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

617 Citations (Scopus)


Our understanding of the relationship between the decomposition of soil organic matter (SOM) and soil temperature affects our predictions of the impact of climate change on soil-stored carbon1. One current opinion is that the decomposition of soil labile carbon is sensitive to temperature variation whereas resistant components are insensitive2, 3, 4. The resistant carbon or organic matter in mineral soil is then assumed to be unresponsive to global warming2, 4. But the global pattern and magnitude of the predicted future soil carbon stock will mainly rely on the temperature sensitivity of these resistant carbon pools. To investigate this sensitivity, we have incubated soils under changing temperature. Here we report that SOM decomposition or soil basal respiration rate was significantly affected by changes in SOM components associated with soil depth, sampling method and incubation time. We find, however, that the temperature sensitivity for SOM decomposition was not affected, suggesting that the temperature sensitivity for resistant organic matter pools does not differ significantly from that of labile pools, and that both types of SOM will therefore respond similarly to global warming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-59
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2005


  • trace gas fluxes
  • microbial respiration
  • carbon storage
  • N availability
  • net nitrogen
  • mineralization
  • decomposition
  • dependence
  • biomass
  • forest


Dive into the research topics of 'Similar response of labile and resistant soil organic matter pools to changes in temperature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this