Publications by authors named "Kristiina Karhu"

6 Publications

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Insect herbivory dampens Subarctic birch forest C sink response to warming.

Nat Commun 2020 05 21;11(1):2529. Epub 2020 May 21.

Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Niemenkatu 73, 15140, Lahti, Finland.

Climate warming is anticipated to make high latitude ecosystems stronger C sinks through increasing plant production. This effect might, however, be dampened by insect herbivores whose damage to plants at their background, non-outbreak densities may more than double under climate warming. Here, using an open-air warming experiment among Subarctic birch forest field layer vegetation, supplemented with birch plantlets, we show that a 2.3 °C air and 1.2 °C soil temperature increase can advance the growing season by 1-4 days, enhance soil N availability, leaf chlorophyll concentrations and plant growth up to 400%, 160% and 50% respectively, and lead up to 122% greater ecosystem CO uptake potential. However, comparable positive effects are also found when insect herbivory is reduced, and the effect of warming on C sink potential is intensified under reduced herbivory. Our results confirm the expected warming-induced increase in high latitude plant growth and CO uptake, but also reveal that herbivorous insects may significantly dampen the strengthening of the CO sink under climate warming.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-16404-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7242322PMC
May 2020

Temperature sensitivity patterns of carbon and nitrogen processes in decomposition of boreal organic soils - Quantification in different compounds and molecule sizes based on a multifactorial experiment.

PLoS One 2019 10;14(10):e0223446. Epub 2019 Oct 10.

Department of Forest Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

Climate warming and organic matter decomposition are connected in a recursive manner; this recursion can be described by temperature sensitivity. We conducted a multifactorial laboratory experiment to quantify the temperature sensitivity of organic carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) decomposition processes of common boreal organic soils. We incubated 36 mor and 36 slightly decomposed Carex-Sphagnum peat samples in a constant moisture and ambient temperature for 6 months. The experiment included three temperature and two moisture levels and two food web manipulations (samples with and without fungivore enchytraeid worms). We determined the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in seven molecular size classes together with ammonium N and dissolved organic N in low molecular weight and high molecular weight fractions. The temperature sensitivity function Q10 was fit to the data. The C and N release rate was almost an order of magnitude higher in mor than in peat. Soil fauna increased the temperature sensitivity of C release. Soil fauna played a key role in N release; when fauna was absent in peat, the N release was ceased. The wide range of the studied C and N compounds and treatments (68 Q10 datasets) allowed us to recognize five different temperature sensitivity patterns. The most common pattern (37 out of 68) was a positive upwards temperature response, which was observed for CO2 and DOC release. A negative downward pattern was observed for extractable organic nitrogen and microbial C. Sixteen temperature sensitivity patterns represented a mixed type, where the Q10function was not applicable, as this does not allow changing the sign storage change rate with increasing or decreasing temperature. The mixed pattern was typically connected to intermediate decomposition products, where input and output fluxes with different temperature sensitivities may simultaneously change the storage. Mixed type was typical for N processes. Our results provide useful parameterization for ecosystem models that describe the feedback loop between climate warming, organic matter decomposition, and productivity of N-limited vegetation.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0223446PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6786529PMC
March 2020

Postfire nitrogen balance of Mediterranean shrublands: Direct combustion losses versus gaseous and leaching losses from the postfire soil mineral nitrogen flush.

Glob Chang Biol 2018 10 8;24(10):4505-4520. Epub 2018 Aug 8.

Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Fire is a major factor controlling global carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling. While direct C and N losses caused by combustion have been comparably well established, important knowledge gaps remain on postfire N losses. Here, we quantified both direct C and N combustion losses as well as postfire gaseous losses (N O, NO and N ) and N leaching after a high-intensity experimental fire in an old shrubland in central Spain. Combustion losses of C and N were 9.4 Mg C/ha and 129 kg N/ha, respectively, representing 66% and 58% of initial aboveground vegetation and litter stocks. Moreover, fire strongly increased soil mineral N concentrations by several magnitudes to a maximum of 44 kg N/ha 2 months after the fire, with N largely originating from dead soil microbes. Postfire soil emissions increased from 5.4 to 10.1 kg N ha  year for N , from 1.1 to 1.9 kg N ha  year for NO and from 0.05 to 0.2 kg N ha  year for N O. Maximal leaching losses occurred 2 months after peak soil mineral N concentrations, but remained with 0.1 kg N ha  year of minor importance for the postfire N mass balance. N stable isotope labelling revealed that 33% of the mineral N produced by fire was incorporated in stable soil N pools, while the remainder was lost. Overall, our work reveals significant postfire N losses dominated by emissions of N that need to be considered when assessing fire effects on ecosystem N cycling and mass balance. We propose indirect N gas emissions factors for the first postfire year, equalling to 7.7% (N -N), 2.7% (NO-N) and 5.0% (N O-N) of the direct fire combustion losses of the respective N gas species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14388DOI Listing
October 2018

The Role of Microbial Community Composition in Controlling Soil Respiration Responses to Temperature.

PLoS One 2016 31;11(10):e0165448. Epub 2016 Oct 31.

University of Aberdeen, Cruickshank Building St Machar Drive, Aberdeen AB24 3UU, United Kingdom.

Rising global temperatures may increase the rates of soil organic matter decomposition by heterotrophic microorganisms, potentially accelerating climate change further by releasing additional carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere. However, the possibility that microbial community responses to prolonged warming may modify the temperature sensitivity of soil respiration creates large uncertainty in the strength of this positive feedback. Both compensatory responses (decreasing temperature sensitivity of soil respiration in the long-term) and enhancing responses (increasing temperature sensitivity) have been reported, but the mechanisms underlying these responses are poorly understood. In this study, microbial biomass, community structure and the activities of dehydrogenase and β-glucosidase enzymes were determined for 18 soils that had previously demonstrated either no response or varying magnitude of enhancing or compensatory responses of temperature sensitivity of heterotrophic microbial respiration to prolonged cooling. The soil cooling approach, in contrast to warming experiments, discriminates between microbial community responses and the consequences of substrate depletion, by minimising changes in substrate availability. The initial microbial community composition, determined by molecular analysis of soils showing contrasting respiration responses to cooling, provided evidence that the magnitude of enhancing responses was partly related to microbial community composition. There was also evidence that higher relative abundance of saprophytic Basidiomycota may explain the compensatory response observed in one soil, but neither microbial biomass nor enzymatic capacity were significantly affected by cooling. Our findings emphasise the key importance of soil microbial community responses for feedbacks to global change, but also highlight important areas where our understanding remains limited.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0165448PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5087920PMC
June 2017

Temperature sensitivity of soil respiration rates enhanced by microbial community response.

Nature 2014 Sep;513(7516):81-4

Geography, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4RJ, UK.

Soils store about four times as much carbon as plant biomass, and soil microbial respiration releases about 60 petagrams of carbon per year to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Short-term experiments have shown that soil microbial respiration increases exponentially with temperature. This information has been incorporated into soil carbon and Earth-system models, which suggest that warming-induced increases in carbon dioxide release from soils represent an important positive feedback loop that could influence twenty-first-century climate change. The magnitude of this feedback remains uncertain, however, not least because the response of soil microbial communities to changing temperatures has the potential to either decrease or increase warming-induced carbon losses substantially. Here we collect soils from different ecosystems along a climate gradient from the Arctic to the Amazon and investigate how microbial community-level responses control the temperature sensitivity of soil respiration. We find that the microbial community-level response more often enhances than reduces the mid- to long-term (90 days) temperature sensitivity of respiration. Furthermore, the strongest enhancing responses were observed in soils with high carbon-to-nitrogen ratios and in soils from cold climatic regions. After 90 days, microbial community responses increased the temperature sensitivity of respiration in high-latitude soils by a factor of 1.4 compared to the instantaneous temperature response. This suggests that the substantial carbon stores in Arctic and boreal soils could be more vulnerable to climate warming than currently predicted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature13604DOI Listing
September 2014

Temperature sensitivity of soil carbon fractions in boreal forest soil.

Ecology 2010 Feb;91(2):370-6

Finnish Environment Institute, Research Programme for Global Change, P.O. Box 140, FI-00251 Helsinki, Finland.

Feedback to climate warming from the carbon balance of terrestrial ecosystems depends critically on the temperature sensitivity of soil organic carbon (SOC) decomposition. Still, the temperature sensitivity is not known for the majority of the SOC, which is tens or hundreds of years old. This old fraction is paradoxically concluded to be more, less, or equally sensitive compared to the younger fraction. Here, we present results that explain these inconsistencies. We show that the temperature sensitivity of decomposition increases remarkably from the youngest annually cycling fraction (Q10 < 2) to a decadally cycling one (Q10 = 4.2-6.9) but decreases again to a centennially cycling fraction (Q10 = 2.4-2.8) in boreal forest soil. Compared to the method used for current global estimates (temperature sensitivity of all SOC equal to that of the total heterotrophic soil respiration), the soils studied will lose 30-45% more carbon in response to climate warming during the next few decades, if there is no change in carbon input. Carbon input, derivative of plant productivity, would have to increase by 100-120%, as compared to the earlier estimated 70-80%, in order to compensate for the accelerated decomposition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/09-0478.1DOI Listing
February 2010