The response of soil respiration to thinning was not affected by understory removal in a Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata) plantation

Renshan Li, Wenhui Zheng, Qingpeng Yang, Weidong Zhang, Yonggang Chi, Peng Wang, Ming Xu, Xin Guan, Longchi Chen, Qingkui Wang, Silong Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Thinning and understory removal are two common silvicultural practices used in plantation ecosystems, and both are expected to influence soil respiration (RS). However, little is known about how the two practices, particularly their interaction, affect the heterotrophic (RH) and autotrophic (RA) components of RS. This knowledge gap further constrains our accurate evaluation on the carbon balance in plantations upon both thinning and understory removal, because the two practices are often conducted simultaneously in plantation management. Thus, we partitioned RS into RH and RA using trenched plots in a Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata) plantation subject to thinning and understory removal. The RS and its two components were measured in 2013 and 2014 at approximately monthly intervals. The potential control factors such as soil temperature, soil moisture and soil chemical properties were also determined. We found that thinning marginally significantly (P = 0.059) increased RS in 2013 by 17.32%, while it had no influence on RS in 2014 (P > 0.1), indicating that the influence of thinning on RS weakened with time. Similarly, a significant increase in RH toward thinning also occurred in 2013 (by 32.5%) but not in 2014. However, RA showed no response to thinning in either year. No interaction effect between thinning and understory removal was found on RS, RH, and RA. The increased soil temperature in the thinned stands in 2013 played a key role in raising the post-thinning RH and RS in this year. Generally, the temperature sensitivity (Q10) value of RS and its components increased in the order of RH < RS < RA regardless of treatment. The Q10 value of RS showed negligible variation among different treatments, and thus was likely not affected by thinning, understory removal, or their interactions. The results highlighted that understory removal in thinned stands would not exacerbate soil carbon emission in this plantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-54
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Soil Science


  • Plantation management
  • Root trenching
  • Soil CO efflux
  • Soil traits


Dive into the research topics of 'The response of soil respiration to thinning was not affected by understory removal in a Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata) plantation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this