Flow of Deposited Inorganic N in Two Gleysol-dominated Mountain Catchments Traced with 15NO 3 − and 15NH 4 + Article Received: 31 January 2005 Accepted: 30 May 2005 DOI:
Cite this article as: Providoli, I., Bugmann, H., Siegwolf, R. et al. Biogeochemistry (2005) 76: 453. doi:10.1007/s10533-005-8124-1 Abstract.
In two mountain ecosystems at the Alptal research site in central Switzerland, pulses of
15NO 3 and 15NH 4 were separately applied to trace deposited inorganic N. One forested and one litter meadow catchment, each approximately 1600 m 2, were delimited by trenches in the Gleysols. K 15NO 3 was applied weekly or fortnightly over one year with a backpack sprayer, thus labelling the atmospheric nitrate deposition. After the sampling and a one-year break, 15NH 4Cl was applied as a second one-year pulse, followed by a second sampling campaign. Trees (needles, branches and bole wood), ground vegetation, litter layer and soil (LF, A and B horizon) were sampled at the end of each labelling period. Extractable inorganic N, microbial N, and immobilised soil N were analysed in the LF and A horizons. During the whole labelling period, the runoff water was sampled as well. Most of the added tracer remained in both ecosystems. More NO 3 − than NH 4 + tracer was retained, especially in the forest. The highest recovery was in the soil, mainly in the organic horizon, and in the ground vegetation, especially in the mosses. Event-based runoff analyses showed an immediate response of 15NO 3 − in runoff, with sharp 15N peaks corresponding to discharge peaks. NO 3 − leaching showed a clear seasonal pattern, being highest in spring during snowmelt. The high capacity of N retention in these ecosystems leads to the assumption that deposited N accumulates in the soil organic matter, causing a progressive decline of its C:N ratio. 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Providoli I. 2005. Pathways of Atmospherically Deposited Nitrogen in Two Mountain Ecosystems in Central Switzerland: An Experimental and Model-based Study Using the 15N Isotope. Thesis 15887. ETH, Zurich.
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