Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1756
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1756
27 Jun 2024
 | 27 Jun 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Exploring effects of variation in plant root traits on carbon emissions from estuarine marshes

Youssef Saadaoui, Christian Beer, Peter Mueller, Friederike Neiske, Joscha N. Becker, Annette Eschenbach, and Philipp Porada

Abstract. Estuarine marshes are crucial components of coastal environments around the world and provide numerous ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration. Plant-microbe interactions are potential key drivers of organic carbon cycling in these ecosystems, but their contribution to the ecosystem-level carbon balance has been rarely quantified so far. This is partly due to the substantial intra- and interspecific variation of plant traits that are affecting microbial functions. Traits such as root oxygen loss and root exudation, for instance, modify soil heterotrophic respiration, but may strongly differ between plant species. Moreover, the non-linearity of the relationships between soil carbon fluxes and effects of plant-microbe interactions may require an explicit representation of trait variation for correctly estimating the carbon balance of estuarine marshes in ecosystem models. However, modelling approaches in this regard so far mostly represent plants as a set of traits that are based on average values of different individuals or species, thus not capturing trait variation. In this study, we implemented a key plant trait, the modification of soil oxygen concentration, into a simple model of heterotrophic respiration in estuarine marsh soils. We then compared two model configurations, one with and one without explicit representation of variation in soil oxygen levels, to estimate the effect on simulated heterotrophic respiration. We found a 10 % reduction in the average respiration rate and a deviation from the median of +33 % /-47 % within the first and third quartile of the distribution in the approach that accounted for trait variation. This illustrates the potentially large impacts that may arise from spatial heterogeneity of plant species or changing community composition of plants on the carbon balance of estuarine marshes. We thus suggest implementing trait variation in marsh ecosystem models.

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Youssef Saadaoui, Christian Beer, Peter Mueller, Friederike Neiske, Joscha N. Becker, Annette Eschenbach, and Philipp Porada

Status: open (until 24 Aug 2024)

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Youssef Saadaoui, Christian Beer, Peter Mueller, Friederike Neiske, Joscha N. Becker, Annette Eschenbach, and Philipp Porada
Youssef Saadaoui, Christian Beer, Peter Mueller, Friederike Neiske, Joscha N. Becker, Annette Eschenbach, and Philipp Porada

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Short summary
Estuarine marshes are vital for capturing carbon and benefiting the climate. Our research explored how plant-microbe interactions affect carbon cycling, focusing on traits like root oxygen loss. Using a model, we found that accounting for these trait variations significantly changes carbon balance estimates. This suggests that including plant diversity in ecosystem models improves predictions about carbon dynamics in estuarine marshes, highlighting their importance in climate regulation.