NO Gas Loss from Biologically Crusted Soils in Canyonlands National Park, Utah Article Received: 26 April 2004 Accepted: 28 January 2005 DOI:
Cite this article as: Barger, N.N., Belnap, J., Ojima, D.S. et al. Biogeochemistry (2005) 75: 373. doi:10.1007/s10533-005-1378-9 Abstract.
In this study, we examined N gas loss as nitric oxide (NO) from N-fixing biologically crusted soils in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. We hypothesized that NO gas loss would increase with increasing N fixation potential of the biologically crusted soil. NO fluxes were measured from biologically crusted soils with three levels of N fixation potential (
Scytonema-Nostoc-Collema spp. (dark)> Scytonema-Nostoc-Microcoleus spp. (medium)> Microcoleus spp. (light)) from soil cores and field chambers. In both cores and field chambers there was a significant effect of crust type on NO fluxes, but this was highly dependent on season. NO fluxes from field chambers increased with increasing N fixation potential of the biologically crusted soils (dark>medium>light) in the summer months, with no differences in the spring and autumn. Soil chlorophyllasis Type a content (an index of N fixation potential), percent N, and temperature explained 40% of the variability in NO fluxes from our field sites. Estimates of annual NO loss from dark and light crusts was 0.04-0.16 and 0.02-0.11-N/ha/year. Overall, NO gas loss accounts for approximately 3-7% of the N inputs via N fixation in dark and light biologically crusted soils. Land use practices have drastically altered biological soil crusts communities over the past century. 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