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International Journal of Ecology
Volume 2014, Article ID 712537, 18 pages
Review Article

Understanding the Terrestrial Carbon Cycle: An Ecohydrological Perspective

Unité d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Physique de la Environnement (EPHYSE, UR 1263), L'Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Centre INRA Bordeaux, Aquitaine, 71 Avenue Edouard Bourlaux, 33140 Villenave d'Ornon, France

Received 23 July 2013; Revised 9 November 2013; Accepted 18 December 2013; Published 4 March 2014

Academic Editor: Ram C. Sihag

Copyright © 2014 Ajit Govind and Jyothi Kumari. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The terrestrial carbon (C) cycle has a great role in influencing the climate with complex interactions that are spatially and temporally variable and scale-related. Hence, it is essential that we fully understand the scale-specific complexities of the terrestrial C-cycle towards (1) strategic design of monitoring and experimental initiatives and (2) also developing conceptualizations for modeling purposes. These complexities arise due to the nonlinear interactions of various components that govern the fluxes of mass and energy across the soil-plant-atmospheric continuum. Considering the critical role played by hydrological processes in governing the biogeochemical and plant physiological processes, a coupled representation of these three components (collectively referred to as ecohydrological approach) is critical to explain the complexity in the terrestrial C-cycling processes. In this regard, we synthesize the research works conducted in this broad area and bring them to a common platform with an ecohydrological spirit. This could aid in the development of novel concepts of nonlinear ecohydrological interactions and thereby help reduce the current uncertainties in the terrestrial C-cycling process. The usefulness of spatially explicit and process-based ecohydrological models that have tight coupling between hydrological, ecophysiological, and biogeochemical processes is also discussed.