Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 8, Issue 3–4, pp 251–273 | Cite as

Spatial variation in soil inorganic nitrogen across an arid urban ecosystem

  • Diane HopeEmail author
  • Weixing Zhu
  • Corinna Gries
  • Jacob Oleson
  • Jason Kaye
  • Nancy B. Grimm
  • Lawrence A. Baker


We explored variations in inorganic soil nitrogen (N) concentrations across metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, and the surrounding desert using a probability-based synoptic survey. Data were examined using spatial statistics on the entire region, as well as for the desert and urban sites separately. Concentrations of both NO3-N and NH4-N were markedly higher and more heterogeneous amongst urban compared to desert soils. Regional variation in soil NO3-N concentration was best explained by latitude, land use history, population density, along with percent cover of impervious surfaces and lawn, whereas soil NH4-N concentrations were related to only latitude and population density. Within the urban area, patterns in both soil NO3-N and NH4-N were best predicted by elevation, population density and type of irrigation in the surrounding neighborhood. Spatial autocorrelation of soil NO3-N concentrations explained 49% of variation among desert sites but was absent between urban sites. We suggest that inorganic soil N concentrations are controlled by a number of ‘local’ or ‘neighborhood’ human-related drivers in the city, rather than factors related to an urban-rural gradient.


soil NO3-N-N soil NH4-N urban ecosystem desert spatial autocorrelation integrated inventory CAP LTER 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diane Hope
    • 1
    Email author
  • Weixing Zhu
    • 2
  • Corinna Gries
    • 1
  • Jacob Oleson
    • 3
  • Jason Kaye
    • 4
  • Nancy B. Grimm
    • 4
  • Lawrence A. Baker
    • 5
  1. 1.International Institute for SustainabilityArizona State UniversityTempe
  2. 2.Biological Sciences, SUNYBinghamtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Math & StatisticsASU
  4. 4.School of Life SciencesASUTempe
  5. 5.Minnesota Water Resources CenterSt. Paul

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