Advertisement

Biogeochemistry

, Volume 136, Issue 3, pp 237–248 | Cite as

Depth trends of soil organic matter C:N and 15N natural abundance controlled by association with minerals

  • Marc G. Kramer
  • Kate Lajtha
  • Anthony K. Aufdenkampe
Biogeochemistry Letters

Abstract

Plant residues show carbon:nitrogen (C:N) decreases, 15N isotopic enrichment and preferential loss of labile substrates during microbial decay. In soil profiles, strikingly similar patterns of decreasing C:N and 15N isotopic enrichment with increasing depth are well documented. The parallel trend in organic matter composition with soil depth and during plant residue decay has been used as evidence to suggest that organic products accumulate or develop in the subsoil due to increasing intensity of microbially-driven processing, although no studies to date have verified this. Here, by applying sequential density fractionation, specific surface area, oxalate extractable Fe and Al, C:N and δ15N measures with depth to soils with relatively uniform soil mineralogy (Oxisols), climates and vegetation we show that changes in organo-mineral associations drive subsoil C:N and δ15N and C:N depth patterns more than in situ organic matter decay. Our results provide the first direct evidence that soil depth trends could be driven by mineral association instead of in situ processing.

Keywords

Soil organic matter Natural abundance stable isotopes Mineral soil carbon Soil mineralogy Specific surface area Soil mineralogy Carbon to nitrogen ratio Microbial processing of soil organic matter Sequential density fractionation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Russell Johnson and Dr. Dyke Andreasen for assistance for the elemental and stable isotope analysis. We thank Dr. Douglas Allen Schaefer And Xioming Zou of the Tropical Forest Ecology Laboratory, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences for assistance with sampling soils in the field at the Xishuangbanna site in China and Dr. Phillip Sollins for assistance with sampling at the Susua Site in Puerto Rico. Sequential density fractionation was performed at Oregon State University, Corvallis OR. Soil sample preparation, elemental and isotopic analyses were conducted at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the Western Regional Research Center of the Agricultural Research Center in Albany California.

Author contributions

MGK processed the soil samples and performed elemental and stable isotope analysis, oxalate acid extractions, and XRD on all the bulk soil and density fractions. KL performed the sequential density fractionation separations. MGK and KL designed, executed and interpreted results from two soils examined in the study. AA provided specific surface mineralogy analysis of the samples. MGK wrote the manuscript, to which all authors contributed substantial interpretation, discussion and text.

Supplementary material

10533_2017_378_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (961 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PPTX 962 kb)

References

  1. Amundson R, Austin AT, Schuur EAG, Yoo K, Matzek V, Kendall C et al (2003) Global patterns of the isotopic composition of soil and plant nitrogen. Global Biogeochem Cycles.  https://doi.org/10.1029/2002GB001903 Google Scholar
  2. Baisden WT, Amundson R, Brenner DL, Cook AC, Kendall C, Harden JW (2002) A multiisotope C and N modeling analysis of soil organic matter turnover and transport as a function of soil depth in a California annual grassland soil chronosequence. Global Biogeochem Cycles 16(4):82-1–82-26Google Scholar
  3. Balesdent J, Balabane M (1996) Major contribution of roots to soil carbon storage inferred from maize cultivated soils. Soil Biol Biochem 28(9):1261–1263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Balesdent J, Girardin C, Mariotti A (1993) Site-related^(13) C of tree leaves and soil organic matter in a temperate forest. Ecology 74(6):1713–1721CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Batjes NH (1996) Total carbon and nitrogen in the soils of the world. Eur J Soil Sci 47:151–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Billings SA, Richter DD (2006) Changes in stable isotopic signatures of soil nitrogen and carbon during 40 years of forest development. Oecologia 148:325–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boström B, Comstedt D, Ekblad A (2007) Isotope fractionation and 13C enrichment in soil profiles during the decomposition of soil organic matter. Oecologia 153(1):89–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brunauer S, Emmett PH, Teller E (1938) Adsorption of gases in multimolecular layers. J Am Chem Soc 60(2):309–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bullock SH, Mooney HA, Medina E (1995) Seasonally dry tropical forests. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burt R (2004) Soil survey laboratory methods manualGoogle Scholar
  11. Callesen I, Nilsson LO, Schmidt IK, Vesterdal L, Ambus P, Christiansen JR et al (2013) The natural abundance of 15N in litter and soil profiles under six temperate tree species: N cycling depends on tree species traits and site fertility. Plant Soil 368(1–2):375–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cao M, Zou X, Warren M, Zhu H (2006) Tropical forests of xishuangbanna, China. Biotropica 38(3):306–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cleveland CC, Neff JC, Townsend AR, Hood E (2004) Composition, dynamics, and fate of leached dissolved organic matter in terrestrial ecosystems: results from a decomposition experiment. Ecosystems 7:275–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Conant RT, Drijber RA, Haddix ML, Parton WJ, Paul EA, Plante AF et al (2008) Sensitivity of organic matter decomposition to warming varies with its quality. Glob Change Biol 14(4):868–877CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Crow SE, Lajtha K, Filley TR, Swanston CW, Bowden RD, Caldwell BA (2009) Sources of plant-derived carbon and stability of organic matter in soil: implications for global change. Glob Change Biol 15:2003–2019CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davidson EA, Janssens IA (2006) Temperature sensitivity of soil carbon decomposition and feedbacks to climate change. Nature 440:165–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dijkstra P, LaViolette CM, Coyle JS, Doucett RR, Schwartz E, Hart SC, Hungate BA (2008) 15N enrichment as an integrator of the effects of C and N on microbial metabolism and ecosystem function. Ecol Lett 11(4):389–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ehleringer JR, Buchmann N, Flanagan LB (2000) Carbon isotope ratios in belowground carbon cycle processes. Ecol Appl 10(2):412–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Godbold DL, Hoosbeek MR, Lukac M, Cotrufo MF, Janssens IA, Ceulemans R, Polle A, Velthorst EJ, Scarascia-Mugnozza G, Angelis PD, Miglietta F, Peressotti A (2006) Mycorrhizal hyphal turnover as a dominant process for carbon input into soil organic matter. Plant Soil 281:15–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hobbie EA, Horton TR (2007) Evidence that saprotrophic fungi mobilise carbon and mycorrhizal fungi mobilise nitrogen during litter decomposition. New Phytol 173(3):447–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Högberg P (1997) Tansley review no. 95 15N natural abundance in soil-plant systems. New Phytol 137(2):179–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jackson RB, Lajtha K, Crow SE, Hugelius G, Kramer MG, Piñeiro G (2017) The ecology of soil carbon: pools, vulnerabilities, and biotic and abiotic controls. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 48(1)Google Scholar
  23. Jenkinson D, Coleman K (2008) The turnover of organic carbon in subsoils. Part 2. Modelling carbon turnover. Eur J of Soil Sci 59(2):400–413CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jobbágy EG, Jackson RB (2000) The vertical distribution of soil organic carbon and its relation to climate and vegetation. Ecol Appl 10:423–436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. John B, Yamashita T, Ludwig B, Flessa H (2005) Storage of organic carbon in aggregate and density fractions of silty soils under different types of land use. Geoderma 128(1):63–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kaiser K, Guggenberger G (2003) Mineral surfaces and soil organic matter. Eur J Soil Sci 54(2):219–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kaiser K, Guggenberger G, Zech W (2001) Isotopic fractionation of dissolved organic carbon in shallow forest soils as affected by sorption. Eur J Soil Sci 52:585–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Keil RG, Mayer LM, Quay PD, Richey JE, Hedges JI (1997) Loss of organic matter from riverine particles in deltas. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 61(7):1507–1511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kirschbaum MUF (1995) The temperature dependence of soil organic matter decomposition, and the effect of global warming on soil organic C storage. Soil Biol Biochem 27(6):753–760CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kögel-Knabner I, Guggenberger G, Kleber M, Kandeler E, Kalbitz K, Scheu S et al (2008) Organo-mineral associations in temperate soils: integrating biology, mineralogy, and organic matter chemistry. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 171(1):61–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kramer MG, Sollins P, Sletten RS, Swart PK (2003) N isotope fractionation and measures of organic matter alteration during decomposition. Ecology 84(8):2021–2025CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kramer MG, Lajtha K, Thomas G, Sollins P (2009) Contamination effects on soil density fractions from high N or C content sodium polytungstate. Biogeochemistry 92(1–2):177–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kramer MG, Sanderman J, Chadwick OA, Chorover J, Vitousek PM (2012) Long-term carbon storage through retention of dissolved aromatic acids by reactive particles in soil. Glob Change Biol 18(8):2594–2605CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Krull ES, Skjemstad JO (2003) δ 13 C and δ 15 N profiles in 14 C-dated Oxisol and Vertisols as a function of soil chemistry and mineralogy. Geoderma 112(1):1–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Liu SY, Kleber M, Takahashi LK, Nico PS, Keiluweit M, Ahmed M (2013) Synchrotron based mass spectrometry to investigate the molecular properties of mineral-organic associations. Anal Chem 85(12):6100–6106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ludwig B, Heil B, Flessa H, Beese F (2000) Dissolved organic carbon in seepage water—production and transformation during soil passage. Acta Hydrochim Hydrobiol 28:77–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Macko SA, Estep ML (1984) Microbial alteration of stable nitrogen and carbon isotopic compositions of organic matter. Org Geochem 6:787–790CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Macko SA, Fogel ML, Hare PE, Hoering TC (1987) Isotopic fractionation of nitrogen and carbon in the synthesis of amino acids by microorganisms. Chem Geol Isot Geosci Sect 65(1):79–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Medina E, Cuevas E, Figueroa J, Lugo AE (1994) Mineral content of leaves from trees growing on serpentine soils under contrasting rainfall regimes in Puerto Rico. Plant Soil 158(1):13–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Melillo JM, Aber JD, Linkins AE, Ricca A, Fry B, Nadelhoffer KJ (1989) Carbon and nitrogen dynamics along the decay continuum—plant litter to soil organic-matter. Plant Soil 115:189–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mikutta R, Kleber M, Torn MS, Jahn R (2006) Stabilization of soil organic matter: association with minerals or chemical recalcitrance? Biogeochemistry 77(1):25–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nadelhoffer KJ, Fry B (1994) Nitrogen isotope studies in forest ecosystems. In: Lajtha K, Michener R (eds) Stable isotopes in ecology. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, pp 22–44Google Scholar
  43. Nadellhoffer KJ, Fry B (1988) Controls on natural nitrogen-15 and carbon-13 abundances in forest soil organic matter. Soil Sci Soc Am J 52(6):1633–1640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Penn RL, Zhu C, Xu H, Veblen DR (2001) Iron oxide coatings on sand grains from the Atlantic coastal plain: high-resolution transmission electron microscopy characterization. Geology 29(9):843–846CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Post WM, Pastor J, Zinke PJ, Stangenberger AG (1985) Global patterns of soil nitrogen storage. Nature 317(6038):613–616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pronk GJ, Heister K, Kögel-Knabner I (2013) Is turnover and development of organic matter controlled by mineral composition? Soil Biol Biochem 67:235–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Riga A, Van Praag HJ, Brigode No (1971) Rapport isotopique naturel de l’azote dans quelques sols forestiers et agricoles de Belgique soumis à divers traitements culturaux. Geoderma 6(3):213–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rumpel C, Kögel-Knabner I (2011) Deep soil organic matter—a key but poorly understood component of terrestrial C cycle. Plant Soil 338(1–2):143–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schmidt MW, Torn MS, Abiven S, Dittmar T, Guggenberger G, Janssens IA et al (2011) Persistence of soil organic matter as an ecosystem property. Nature 478(7367):49–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schrumpf M, Kaiser K, Guggenberger G, Persson T, Kögel-Knabner I, Schulze ED (2013) Storage and stability of organic carbon in soils as related to depth, occlusion within aggregates, and attachment to minerals. Biogeosciences 10(3):1675–1691CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Shearer G, Kohl DH, Chien S-H (1978) The nitrogen-15 abundance in a wide variety of soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 42(6):899–902CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Silander S, Gil de Rubio H, Miranda M, Vazquez M (1986) Los Bosques de Puerto Rico, Volume II. Compendio Enciclopédico de los Recursos Naturales de Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources, San Juan, Puerto RicoGoogle Scholar
  53. Sollins P, Swanston C, Kleber M, Filley T, Kramer M, Crow S et al (2006) Organic C and N stabilization in a forest soil: evidence from sequential density fractionation. Soil Biol Biochem 38(11):3313–3324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sollins P, Kramer MG, Swanston C, Lajtha K, Filley T, Aufdenkampe AK et al (2009) Sequential density fractionation across soils of contrasting mineralogy: evidence for both microbial-and mineral-controlled soil organic matter stabilization. Biogeochemistry 96(1–3):209–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Throop HL, Lajtha K, Kramer M (2013) Density fractionation and 13C reveal changes in soil carbon following woody encroachment in a desert ecosystem. Biogeochemistry 112:409–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tian H, Chen G, Zhang C, Melillo JM, Hall CA (2010) Pattern and variation of C: N: P ratios in China’s soils: a synthesis of observational data. Biogeochemistry 98(1–3):139–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Torn MS, Trumbore SE, Chadwick OA, Vitousek PM, Hendricks DM (1997) Mineral control of soil organic carbon storage and turnover. Nature 389(6647):170–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Trumbore SE, Davidson EA, Barbosa de Camargo P, Nepstad DC, Martinelli LA (1995) Belowground cycling of carbon in forests and pastures of Eastern Amazonia. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 9(4):515–528CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wada K (1989) Allophane and imogolite. In: Dixon JB, Weed SB (eds) Minerals in the soil environment. 2nd ed. Soil Sci. Am., Book Series No. 1. ASA and SSSA, Madison, pp 1051–1877Google Scholar
  60. Wagai R, Kishimoto-Mo AW, Yonemura S, Shirato Y, Hiradate S, Yagasaki Y (2013) Linking temperature sensitivity of soil organic matter decomposition to its molecular structure, accessibility, and microbial physiology. Glob Change Biol 19(4):1114–1125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wang WF, Qui DY, Wu JC, Ye HM (1996). The soils of Yunnan. Yunnan Science and Technology Press, Kunming (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  62. Whittig LD, Allardice WR (1986) X-ray diffraction techniques. In: Klute A (ed) Methods of soil analysis part II, 2nd edn. ASA, Madison, pp 331–362Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc G. Kramer
    • 1
  • Kate Lajtha
    • 2
  • Anthony K. Aufdenkampe
    • 3
  1. 1.School of the EnvironmentWashington State UniversityVancouverUSA
  2. 2.Department of Crop and SoilsOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  3. 3.Stroud Water Research CenterAvondaleUSA

Personalised recommendations