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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Explicit consideration of microbial physiology in soil biogeochemical models that represent coupled carbon–nitrogen dynamics presents opportunities to deepen understanding of ecosystem responses to environmental change. The MIcrobial-MIneral Carbon Stabilization (MIMICS) model explicitly represents microbial physiology and physicochemical stabilization of soil carbon (C) on regional and global scales. Here we present a new version of MIMICS with coupled C and nitrogen (N) cycling through litter, microbial, and soil organic matter (SOM) pools. The model was parameterized and validated against C and N data from the Long-Term Inter-site Decomposition Experiment Team (LIDET; six litter types, 10 years of observations, and 13 sites across North America). The model simulates C and N losses from litterbags in the LIDET study with reasonable accuracy (C: R2=0.63; N: R2=0.29), which is comparable with simulations from the DAYCENT model that implicitly represents microbial activity (C: R2=0.67; N: R2=0.30). Subsequently, we evaluated equilibrium values of stocks (total soil C and N, microbial biomass C and N, inorganic N) and microbial process rates (soil heterotrophic respiration, N mineralization) simulated by MIMICS-CN across the 13 simulated LIDET sites against published observations from other continent-wide datasets. We found that MIMICS-CN produces equilibrium values in line with measured values, showing that the model generates plausible estimates of ecosystem soil biogeochemical dynamics across continental-scale gradients. MIMICS-CN provides a platform for coupling C and N projections in a microbially explicit model, but experiments still need to identify the physiological and stoichiometric characteristics of soil microbes, especially under environmental change scenarios.


Soil Biogeochemistry and Microbial Ecology

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Geoscientific Model Development



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© Author(s) 2020.


This is an open access article published by EGU in Frontiers in Geoscientific Model Development in 2020, available online: