Bautista, I., Lidón, A., Lull, C., González-Sanchis, M., del Campo, A.D., 2021. Thinning decreased soil respiration differently in two dryland Mediterranean forests with contrasted soil temperature and humidity regimes. European Journal of Forest Research, 140, 1469–1485.
The effects of a thinning treatment on soil respiration (Rs) were analysed in two dryland forest types with a Mediterranean climate in east Spain: a dry subhumid holm oak forest (Quercus ilex subsp. ballota) in La Hunde; a semiarid postfire regenerated Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) forest in Sierra Calderona. Two twin plots were established at each site: one was thinned and the other was the control. Rs, soil humidity and temperature were measured regularly in the field at nine points per plot distributed into three blocks along the slope for 3 years at HU and for 2 years at CA after forest treatment. Soil heterotrophic activity was measured in laboratory on soil samples obtained bimonthly from December 2012 to June 2013 at the HU site. Seasonal Rs distribution gave low values in winter, began to increase in spring before lowering as soil dried in summer. This scenario indicates that with a semiarid climate, soil respiration is controlled by both soil humidity and soil temperature. Throughout the study period, the mean Rs value in the HU C plot was 13% higher than at HU T, and was 26% higher at CA C than the corresponding CA T plot value, being the differences significantly higher in control plots during active growing periods. Soil microclimatic variables explain the biggest proportion of variability for Rs: soil temperature explained 24.1% of total variability for Rs in the dry subhumid forest; soil humidity accounted for 24.6% of total variability for Rs in the semiarid forest. As Mediterranean climates are characterised by wide interannual variability, Rs showed considerable variability over the years, which can mask the effect caused by thinning treatment.