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Although numerous studies have examined the individual effects of increased temperatures and N deposition on soil biogeochemical cycling, few have considered how these disturbances interact to impact soil C and N dynamics. Likewise, many have not assessed season-specific responses to warming and N inputs despite seasonal variability in soil processes. We studied interactions among season, warming, and N additions on soil respiration and N mineralization at the Soil Warming × Nitrogen Addition Study at the Harvard Forest. Of particular interest were wintertime fluxes of C and N typically excluded from investigations of soils and global change. Soils were warmed to 5°C above ambient, and N was applied at a rate of 5 g m−2 y−1. Soil respiration and N mineralization were sampled over two years between 2007 and 2009 and showed strong seasonal patterns that mirrored changes in soil temperature. Winter fluxes of C and N contributed between 2 and 17% to the total annual flux. Net N mineralization increased in response to the experimental manipulations across all seasons, and was 8% higher in fertilized plots and 83% higher in warmed plots over the duration of the study. Soil respiration showed a more season-specific response. Nitrogen additions enhanced soil respiration by 14%, but this increase was significant only in summer and fall. Likewise, warming increased soil respiration by 44% over the whole study period, but the effect of warming was most pronounced in spring and fall. The only interaction between warming × N additions took place in autumn, when N availability likely diminished the positive effect of warming on soil respiration. Our results suggest that winter measurements of C and N are necessary to accurately describe winter biogeochemical processes. In addition, season-specific responses to the experimental treatments suggest that some components of the belowground community may be more susceptible to warming and N additions than others. Seasonal changes in the abiotic environment may have also interacted with the experimental manipulations to evoke biogeochemical responses at certain times of year.
Earth Systems Research Center
Ecological Society of America (ESA)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Contosta, A.R., Frey, S.D., and Cooper, A.B. 2011. Seasonal dynamics of soil respiration and nitrogen mineralization in chronically warmed and fertilized soils. Ecosphere, 2: 1-21. https://dx.doi.org/10.1890/ES10-00133.1
© 2011 Contosta et al.