, Volume 372, Issue 1-2, pp 597-608

Temperature sensitivity of soil carbon and nitrogen mineralization: impacts of nitrogen species and land use type

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Background and aims

Climate warming, nitrogen (N) deposition and land use change are some of the drivers affecting ecosystem processes such as soil carbon (C) and N dynamics, yet the interactive effects of those drivers on ecosystem processes are poorly understood. This study aimed to understand mechanisms of interactive effects of temperature, form of N deposition and land use type on soil C and N mineralization.


We studied, in a laboratory incubation experiment, the effects of temperature (15 vs. 25 °C) and species of N deposition (NH4 +-N vs. NO3 -N) on soil CO2 efflux, dissolved organic C (DOC) and N (DON), NH4 +-N, and NO3 -N concentrations using intact soil columns collected from adjacent forest and grassland ecosystems in north-central Alberta.


Temperature and land use type interacted to affect soil CO2 efflux, concentrations of DON, NH4 +-N and NO3 -N in most measurement times, with the higher incubation temperature resulted in the higher CO2 efflux and NH4 +-N concentrations in forest soils and higher DON and NO3 -N concentrations in grassland soils. Temperature and land use type affected the cumulative soil CO2 efflux, and DOC, DON, NH4 +-N and NO3 -N concentrations. The form of N added or its interaction with the other two factors did not affect any of the C and N cycling parameters.


Temperature and land use type were dominant factors affecting soil C loss, with the soil C in grassland soils more stable and resistant to temperature changes. The lack of short-term effects of the deposition of different N species on soil C and N mineralization suggest that maybe there was a threshold for the N effect to kick in and long-term experiments should be conducted to further elucidate the species of N deposition effects on soil C and N cycling in the studied systems.

Responsible Editor: Hans Lambers.