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Plant effects on soil N mineralization are mediated by the composition of multiple soil organic fractions

Fornara, Dario A. and Bardgett, Richard and Steinbeiss, Sibylle and Zak, Donald R. and Gleixner, Gerd and Tilman, David (2011) Plant effects on soil N mineralization are mediated by the composition of multiple soil organic fractions. Ecological Research, 26 (1). pp. 201-208. ISSN 0912-3814

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Abstract

Despite the topic of soil nitrogen (N) mineralization being well-studied, very few studies have addressed the relative contribution of different plant and soil variables in influencing soil N mineralization rates, and thus the supply of inorganic N to plants. Here, we used data from a well-studied N-limited grassland to address the relative effects of six plant and soil variables on net and on gross rates of soil N mineralization. We also addressed whether plant effects on soil N mineralization were mediated by changes in C and N concentrations of multiple soil organic matter (SOM) fractions. Regression analyses show that key plant traits (i.e., plant C:N ratios and total root mass) were more important than total C and N concentrations of bulk soil in influencing N mineralization. This was mainly because plant traits influenced the C and N concentration (and C:N ratios) of different SOM fractions, which in turn were significantly associated with changes in net and gross N mineralization. In particular, C:N ratios of a labile soil fraction were negatively related to net soil N mineralization rates, whereas total soil C and N concentrations of more recalcitrant fractions were positively related to gross N mineralization. Our study suggests that changes in belowground N-cycling can be better predicted by simultaneously addressing how plant C:N ratios and root mass affect the composition and distribution of different SOM pools in N-limited grassland systems.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Ecological Research
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Lancaster Environment Centre
ID Code: 55627
Deposited By: ep_importer_pure
Deposited On: 10 Jul 2012 10:25
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2014 09:54
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/55627

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