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Soil respiration

Faculty Advisor




climate change, carbon cycling, ecology, hypothesis testing

Abstract (summary)

This guided inquiry laboratory exercise is an excellent opportunity to introduce carbon cycling and some of the issues associated with climate change. Students in our major/minor programs generate a class hypothesis using summarized research on soil respiration and vote on a treatment option: soil type, litter type, water levels or temperature. Respiration chambers incubate for a week, and the amount of CO2 produced over the seven days is determined the following week. This is an easy, low tech way to teach these concepts, but could be adapted to use probes to measure CO2 directly. This activity is very adaptable to highlight different skills such as hypothesis testing, statistical analysis and experimental design. In institutions with more space resources this could be easily adapted for more inquiry-based approaches.

Publication Information

Mewhort RL, Elliott CG, Wakeford D. 2020. Soil respiration. Article 13. In: McMahon K, editor. Advances in biology laboratory education. Volume 41. Publication of the 41st Conference of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE).


Presented on June 18-19, 2019, at the "41st Conference of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE)" held at the University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario.

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