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Ecohydrological controls on root and microbial respiration in the East River watershed of Colorado

Active Dates 8/15/2020-8/14/2024
Program Area Environmental Systems Science
Project Description
Belowground in the soil, microbes breakdown organic matter, releasing CO2.   Plant roots produce CO2 also, via their metabolism.  Our research seeks to understand how moisture inputs, such as snow and rain, influence the amount of CO2 produced belowground in the East River watershed, near Crested Butte, Colorado. We will quantify the flux of CO2from the soil to the atmosphere, and how plant and microbial sources of CO2 respond to the environment, across different elevations.  We will work in the two main forest types in the East River watershed, spruce/fir and aspen. To do this, continuous measurements of soil CO2 concentrations, at multiple depths, will be combined with novel radiocarbon methods that will enable the separation of plant and microbial sources of CO2.  At each site, these measurements will be linked to measurements of forest and snow phenology, microbial activity, and environmental factors such as air and soil temperature, soil moisture, and groundwater flow.  Our work is motivated by our overarching hypothesis that quantifying belowground plant and microbial processes separately, and how they are influenced by snow and rain inputs, is necessary for understanding and predicting how the belowground East River watershed ecosystems will respond to changes in the environment.
Award Recipient(s)
  • Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff (PI: Carbone, Mariah)