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Plant and Soil

, Volume 295, Issue 1–2, pp 265–277 | Cite as

Dissolved organic carbon affects soil microbial activity and nitrogen dynamics in a Mexican tropical deciduous forest

  • Noé Manuel Montaño
  • Felipe García-OlivaEmail author
  • Víctor J. Jaramillo
Regular Article

Abstract

Seasonal variation of dissolved organic C (DOC) and its effects on microbial activity and N dynamics were studied during two consecutive years in soils with different organic C concentrations (hilltop and hillslope) in a tropical deciduous forest of Mexico. We found that DOC concentrations were higher at the hilltop than at the hillslope soils, and in both soils generally decreased from the dry to the rainy season during the two study years. Microbial biomass and potential C mineralization rates, as well as dissolved organic N (DON) and NH 4 + concentrations and net N immobilization were higher in soils with higher DOC than in soils with lower DOC. In contrast, net N immobilization and NH 4 + concentration were depleted in the soil with lowest DOC, whereas NO 3 concentrations and net nitrification increased. Negative correlations between net nitrification and DOC concentration suggested that NH 4 + was transformed to NO 3 by nitrifiers when the C availability was depleted. Taken together, our results suggest that available C appears to control soil microbial activity and N dynamics, and that microbial N immobilization is facilitated by active heterotrophic microorganisms stimulated by high C availability. Soil autotrophic nitrification is magnified by decreases in C availability for heterotrophic microbial activity. This study provides an experimental data set that supports the conceptual model to show and highlight that microbial dynamics and N transformations could be functionally coupled with DOC availability in the tropical deciduous forest soils.

Keywords

C and N availability Dissolved organic C Microbial biomass Mexico Nitrification Tropical dry forests 

Abbreviations

DOC

Dissolved organic carbon

DON

Dissolved organic nitrogen

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Edmundo García-Moya for useful and constructive comments on this project. We would like to thank Maribel Nava-Mendoza for her technical support with chemical analyses in the laboratory. We are also grateful to Salvador Araiza, Abel Verduzco, Carlos Anaya and Ana Noguez for their help in the field work, and Enrique Tapia for his support in the laboratory. We thank Raúl Ahedo, Heberto Ferreira and Alberto Valencia for assistance in data processing, and the personnel of the Chamela Biological Station of the Institute of Biology, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) for logistic support during field work. We also thank the critical comments of two anonymous reviewers, who helped us to considerably improve the manuscript for publication. N.M. Montaño acknowledges Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT)-Mexico (No. 163199) and Dirección General de Estudios de Posgrado (DGEP)-UNAM for scholarships to pursue a doctoral degree in the Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas, UNAM, Mexico. This project was supported by CONACyT-Mexico (G27674-N).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noé Manuel Montaño
    • 1
  • Felipe García-Oliva
    • 1
    Email author
  • Víctor J. Jaramillo
    • 1
  1. 1.Centro de Investigaciones en EcosistemasUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMoreliaMexico

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