We conducted an experiment on sand and clay tropical forest soils to test the short‐term effect of root mortality on the soil‐atmosphere flux of nitrous oxide, nitric oxide, methane, and carbon dioxide. We induced root mortality by isolating blocks of land to 1 m using trenching and root exclusion screening. Gas fluxes were measured weekly for ten weeks following the trenching treatment. For nitrous oxide there was a highly significant increase in soil‐atmosphere flux over the ten weeks following treatment for trenched plots compared to control plots. N2O flux averaged 37.5 and 18.5 ng N cm−2 h−1 from clay trenched and control plots and 4.7 and 1.5 ng N cm−2 h−1 from sand trenched and control plots. In contrast, there was no effect for soil‐atmosphere flux of nitric oxide, carbon dioxide, or methane.


Earth Systems Research Center

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Geophysical Research Letters


American Geophysical Union (AGU)

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©2003. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


This is an article published by AGU in Geophysical Research Letters in 2003, available online: