Ecosystem respiration (ER) was measured with the eddy covariance technique in 14 forest ecosystems in the Upper Great Lakes Region during the growing seasons of 2002 and 2003. The response of ER to soil temperature and moisture was analyzed using empirical models. On average, ER was higher in the intermediate and young than in the mature stands, and higher in hardwood than in conifer stands. The seasonal mean temperature-normalized respiration rate (R10) ranged from 1 to 3 μmol CO2 m−2 s−1 and seasonal mean activation energy (Ea) from 40 to 110 kJ mol−1. The variation in the residuals of temperature response function of ER was best explained by soil moisture content. ER showed higher temperature sensitivity (as indicated by lower Ea) in the young than in the mature stands of coniferous forests, but not in the hardwood forests. The inclusion of soil moisture as an explicit driver of R10 explained an additional 8% (range 0–21%) of variability in ER. Significant moisture sensitivity of ER was detected in only 5 out of 20 site-years and it was associated with bimodal soil moisture distribution. Moisture sensitivity could partially be predicted from statistical moments kurtosis and interquartile range. The data implied greater moisture sensitivity with increasing stand age, possibly due to faster depletion of soil water supplies from a greater evaporative surface in the older stands. Additional limiting factors to ER were implicated.