Soil carbon availability decouples net nitrogen mineralization and net nitrification across United States Long Term Ecological Research sites

A. L. Gill, R. M. Grinder, C. R. See, F. S. Chapin, L. C. DeLancey, M. C. Fisk, P. M. Groffman, T. Harms, S. E. Hobbie, J. D. Knoepp, J. M.H. Knops, M. Mack, P. B. Reich, A. D. Keiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Autotrophic and heterotrophic organisms require resources in stoichiometrically balanced ratios of carbon (C) to nutrients, the demand for which links organismal and ecosystem-level biogeochemical cycles. In soils, the relative availability of C and nitrogen (N) also defines the strength of competition for ammonium between autotrophic nitrifiers and heterotrophic decomposers, which may influence the coupled dynamics between N mineralization and nitrification. Here, we use data from the publicly available US National Science Foundation funded Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) network to evaluate the influence of soil C concentration on the relationship between net nitrification and net N mineralization. We found that soil C availability constrains the fraction of mineralized N that is ultimately nitrified across the continental gradient, contributing to reduced rates of nitrification in soils with high C concentrations. Nitrate, which is produced by nitrification, is a highly mobile ion that easily leaches to aquatic ecosystems or denitrifies into the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). Understanding the connection between soil C concentration and soil N transformations is thus important for managing potential ecosystem N losses, understanding the biogeochemical constraints of these losses, and accurately representing coupled C-N dynamics in ecosystem models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
JournalBiogeochemistry
Volume162
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Long Term Ecological Research
  • Nitrification
  • Nitrogen mineralization
  • Soil carbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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