Spatiotemporal variability of soil respiration in a seasonal tropical forest

Vanessa E. Rubio, Matteo Detto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


We monitored soil CO2 effluxes for over 3 years in a seasonally wet tropical forest in Central Panama using automated and manual measurements from 2013 to 2016. The measurements displayed a high degree of spatial and temporal variability. Temporal variability could be largely explained by surface soil water dynamics over a broad range of temporal scales. Soil moisture was responsible for seasonal cycles, diurnal cycles, intraseasonal variability such as rain-induced pulses following dry spells, as well as suppression during near saturated conditions, and ultimately, interannual variability. Spatial variability, which remains largely unexplained, revealed an emergent role of forest structure in conjunction with physical drivers such as soil temperature and topography. Mean annual soil CO2 effluxes (±SE) amounted to 1,613 (±59) gC m−2 year−1 with an increasing trend in phase with an El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle which culminated with the strong 2015–2016 event. We attribute this trend to a relatively mild wet season during which soil saturated conditions were less persistent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7104-7116
Number of pages13
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


  • automated and manual chamber
  • El Niño/Southern Oscillation
  • forest structure
  • spatial and temporal variability


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