, Volume 75, Issue 2, pp 201-215

Extracellular Enzyme Activities and Soil Organic Matter Dynamics for Northern Hardwood Forests receiving Simulated Nitrogen Deposition

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Abstract

Anthropogenic nitrogen enrichment alters decomposition processes that control the flux of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) from soil organic matter (SOM) pools. To link N-driven changes in SOM to microbial responses, we measured the potential activity of several extracellular enzymes involved in SOM degradation at nine experimental sites located in northern Michigan. Each site has three treatment plots (ambient, +30 and +80 kg N ha−1 y−1). Litter and soil samples were collected on five dates over the third growing season of N treatment. Phenol oxidase, peroxidase and cellobiohydrolase activities showed significant responses to N additions. In the Acer saccharumTilia americana ecosystem, oxidative activity was 38% higher in the litter horizon of high N treatment plots, relative to ambient plots, while oxidative activity in mineral soil showed little change. In the A. saccharumQuercus rubra and Q. velutinaQ. alba ecosystems, oxidative activities declined in both litter (15 and 23%, respectively) and soil (29 and 38%, respectively) in response to high N treatment while cellobiohydrolase activity increased (6 and 39% for litter, 29 and 18% for soil, respectively). Over 3 years, SOM content in the high N plots has decreased in the AcerTilia ecosystem and increased in the two Quercus ecosystems, relative to ambient plots. For all three ecosystems, differences in SOM content in relation to N treatment were directly related (r 2 = 0.92) to an enzyme activity factor that included both oxidative and hydrolytic enzyme responses.