Low and High Nitrogen Deposition Rates in Northern Coniferous Forests Have Different Impacts on Aboveground Litter Production, Soil Respiration, and Soil Carbon Stocks

Forsmark, Benjamin; Nordin, Annika; Maaroufi, Nadia I.; Lundmark, Tomas; Gundale, Michael J. (2020). Low and High Nitrogen Deposition Rates in Northern Coniferous Forests Have Different Impacts on Aboveground Litter Production, Soil Respiration, and Soil Carbon Stocks. Ecosystems, 23(7), pp. 1423-1436. Springer 10.1007/s10021-020-00478-8

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Nitrogen (N) deposition can change the carbon (C) sink of northern coniferous forests by changing the balance between net primary production and soil respiration. We used a field experiment in an N poor Pinus sylvestris forest where five levels of N (0, 3, 6, 12, and 50 kg N ha−1 yr−1, n = 6) had been added annually for 12–13 years to investigate how litter C inputs and soil respiration, divided into its autotrophic and heterotrophic sources, respond to different rates of N input, and its subsequent effect on soil C storage. The highest N addition rate (50 kg N ha−1 yr−1) stimulated soil C accumulation in the organic layer by 22.3 kg C kg−1 N added, increased litter inputs by 46%, and decreased soil respiration per mass unit of soil C by 31.2%, mainly by decreasing autotrophic respiration. Lower N addition rates (≤ 12 kg N ha−1 yr−1) had no effect on litter inputs or soil respiration. These results support previous studies reporting on increased litter inputs coupled to impeded soil C mineralization, contributing to enhancing the soil C sink when N is supplied at high rates, but add observations for lower N addition rates more realistic for N deposition. In doing so, we show that litter production in N poor northern coniferous forests can be relatively unresponsive to low N deposition levels, that stimulation of microbial activity at low N additions is unlikely to reduce the soil C sink, and that high levels of N deposition enhance the soil C sink by increasing litter inputs and decreasing soil respiration.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Biodiversity

UniBE Contributor:

Maaroufi, Nadia

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

1432-9840

Publisher:

Springer

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

04 Feb 2020 15:41

Last Modified:

07 Jan 2021 11:31

Publisher DOI:

10.1007/s10021-020-00478-8

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.139788

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/139788

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