Advertisement

Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Decomposition of urban atmospheric carbon in Sonoran Desert soils

Abstract

Urban atmospheres can have high concentrations of particulate organic carbon (oC) but the rate and fate oC deposition in near-urban ecosystems are rarely quantified. We collected atmospheric particulate matter in Phoenix, AZ and applied these samples to Sonoran Desert soils in a series of laboratory incubation experiments. The addition of fine particulate matter (<2.5 μm aerodynamic diameter) increased microbial respiration in soils collected from the interspaces between desert shrubs. The increase in soil respiration was equivalent to 25% to 30% of the added oC. In contrast, we did not detect increases in respiration when coarse particulate matter (>2.5 μm aerodynamic diameter) was added to interspace soils, suggesting that coarse particulate oC is recalcitrant to microbial decomposition. Due to comparatively higher background levels of C mineralization, we rarely detected changes in microbial respiration when fine or coarse particulate oC was added to soils collected beneath shrub canopies. We measured total atmospheric C concentrations within and surrounding Phoenix and, using inferential methods, estimated rates of deposition that ranged from 0.02 to 0.58 mg C m−2 d−1 for fine particles and from 0 to 6.15 mg C m−2 d−1 for coarse particles. Results show that fine atmospheric particulate matter deposited at low rates downwind of Phoenix is a labile oC substrate for soil heterotrophs. In contrast, oC deposited at higher rates as coarse particulate matter may accumulate in soils due to slow microbial decomposition rates.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

References

  1. Artz R, Chapman S, Campbell C (2006) Substrate utilization profiles of substrates in peat are depth dependent and correlate with whole soil FTIR profiles. Soil Biol Biochem 38:2958–2962

  2. Austin AT, Vivanco L (2006) Plant litter decomposition in a semi-arid ecosystem controlled by photodegradation. Nature 442:555–558

  3. Birch ME, Cary RA (1996) Elemental carbon-based method for monitoring occupational exposures to particulate diesel exhaust. Aerosol Sci Technol 25:221–241

  4. Brookes PC, Landman A, Pruden G, Jenkinson DS (1985) Chloroform fumigation and the release of soil nitrogen: a rapid direct extraction method to measure microbial biomass nitrogen in soil. Soil Biol Biochem 17:837–842

  5. Chew RM, Chew AE (1965) The primary productivity of a desert-shrub (Larrea tridentata) community. Ecol Monogr 35:355–375

  6. Christoforou CS, Salmon LG, Hannigan MP, Solomon PA, Cass GR (2000) Trends in fine particle concentration and chemical composition in southern. Calif J Air Waste Manage Assoc 50:43–53

  7. Fenn ME, Baron JS, Allen EB, Rueth HM, Nydick KR, Geiseler L, Bowman WD, Sickman JO, Meixner T, Johnson DW, Neitlich P (2003) Ecological effects of nitrogen deposition in the western United States. Bioscience 53:404–420

  8. Gallardo A, Schlesinger WH (1992) Carbon and nitrogen limitations of microbial biomass in desert ecosystems. Biogeochemistry 18:1–17

  9. Goldberg DE, Turner RM (1986) Vegetation change and plant demography in permanent plots in the Sonoran Desert. Ecology 67:695–712

  10. Gonzales DA (2007) Dry deposition of speciated ambient fine particles measured using eddy correlation mass spectrometry. PhD Thesis, Arizona State University

  11. Gray HA, Cass GR (1998) Source contributions to atmospheric fine carbon particle concentrations. Atmos Environ 32:3805–3825

  12. Gregg JW, Jones CG, Dawson TE (2003) Urbanization effects on tree growth in the vicinity of New York City. Nature 424:183–187

  13. Guieysse B, Viklund G, Toes AC, Mattiasson B (2004) Combined UV-biological degradation of PAHs. Chemosphere 55:1493–1499

  14. Hall SJ, Ahmed B, Ortiz P, Davies R, Sponseller RA, Grimm NB (2009) Urbanization alters soil microbial functioning in the Sonoran Desert. Ecosystems 12:654–671

  15. Harrison RM, Deacon AR, Jones MR, Appleby RS (1997) Sources and processes affecting concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 particulate matter in Birmingham (U.K.). Atmos Environ 31:4103–4117

  16. Harrison RM, Jones AM, Lawrence RG (2004) Major component composition of PM10 and PM2.5 from roadside and urban background sites. Atmos Environ 38:4531–4538

  17. Heald CL, Kroll JH, Jimenez JL, Docherty KS, DeCarlo PF, Aiken AC, Chen Q, Martin ST, Farmer DK, Artaxo P (2010) A simplified description of the evolution of organic aerosol composition in the atmosphere. Geophys Res Lett. doi:10.1029/2010GL042737

  18. Hildemann LM, Markowski GR, Cass GR (1991) Chemical composition of emissions from urban sources of fine organic aerosol. Environ Sci Technol 25:744–759

  19. Höller R, Tohno S, Kasahara M, Hitzenberger R (2002) Long-term characterization of carbonaceous aerosol in Uji, Japan. Atmos Environ 36:1267–1275

  20. Hughes LS, Allen JO, Salmon LG, Mayo PR, Johnson RJ, Cass GR (2002) Evolution of nitrogen species air pollutants along trajectories crossing the Los Angeles area. Environ Sci Technol 36:3928–3935

  21. Johnsen AR, Karlson U (2005) PAH degradation capacity of soil microbial communities – does it depend on PAH exposure? Microb Ecol 50:488–495

  22. Johnsen AR, Karlson U (2007) Diffuse PAH contamination of surface soils: environmental occurrence, bioavailability, and microbial degradation. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 76:533–543

  23. Kuzyakov Y, Subbotina I, Chen H, Bogomolova I, Xu X (2009) Black carbon decomposition and incorporation into soil microbial biomass estimated by 14C labeling. Soil Biol Biochem 41:210–219

  24. Lohse KA, Hope D, Sponseller RA, Allen JO, Grimm NB (2008) Atmospheric deposition of carbon and nutrients across an arid metropolitan area. Sci Total Environ 402:95–105

  25. Lovett GM, Traynor MM, Pouyat RV, Carreiro MM, Zhu WX, Baxter JW (2000) Atmospheric deposition to oak forests along an urban-rural gradient. Environ Sci Technol 34:4294–4300

  26. MacKenzie MD, DeLuca T (2006) Charcoal and shrubs alter soil processes in ponderosa pine forests of western Montana. Plant Soil 287:257–266

  27. McCrackin ML, Harms TK, Grimm NB, Hall SJ, Kaye JP (2008) Responses of microbes to resource availability in urban, desert soils. Biogeochemistry 87:143–155

  28. Malm WC, Schichtel BA (2004) Spatial and monthly trends in speciated fine particle concentrations in the United States. J Geophys Res 109:D03306. doi:10.1029/2003JD003739

  29. Molnar A, Meszaros E, Hansson HC, Karlsson H, Gelencser A, Kiss GY, Krivacsy Z (1999) The importance of organic and elemental carbon in the fine atmospheric aaerosol particles. Atmos Environ 33:2745–2750

  30. Nadal M, Wargent JJ, Jones KC, Paul ND, Schuhmacher M, Domingo JL (2006) Influence of UV-B radiation and temperature on photodegradation of PAHs: preliminary results. J Atmos Chem 55:241–252

  31. Paul EA, Harris D, Klug M, Ruess R (1999) Chapter 15: the determination of microbial biomass. In Robertson P, Coleman D, Bledsoe C, Sollins P (eds) Standard soil methods for long-term ecological research. Oxford, New York, NY, pp 291–317

  32. Peng RH, Xiong AS, Xue Y, Fu XY, Gao F, Zhao W, Tian YS, Yao Q (2008) Microbial biodegradation of polyaromatic hydrocarbons. FEMS Microbiol Rev 32:927–955

  33. Phillips DL, MacMahon JA (1981) Competition and spacing patterns in desert shrubs. J Ecol 69:97–115

  34. Pouyat RV, Parmelee RW, Carreiro MM (1994) Environmental effects of forest soil-invertebrate and fungal densities in oak stands along an urban-rural land use gradient. Pedobiologia 38:385–399

  35. Safriel U, Adeel Z, Niemeijer D, Puigdefabregas J, White R, Lal R, Winslow M, Ziedler J, Prince S, Archer E, King C (2005) Dryland systems. In: Hassan R, Scholes R, Ash N (eds) Ecosystem and human well-being: current state and trends: findings of the condition and trends working group, vol 1. Island Press, Washington, DC, pp 623–664

  36. Schade JD, Hobbie SE (2005) Spatial and temporal variation in islands of fertility in the Sonoran Desert. Biogeochemistry 73:541–553

  37. Schauer JJ, Rogge WF, Hildemann LM, Mazurek MA, Cass GR, Simoneit BRT (1996) Source apportionment of airborne particulate matter using organic compounds as tracers. Atmos Environ 30:3837–3855

  38. Sehmel GA (1980) Particle and gas dry deposition: a review. Atmos Environ 14:983–1011

  39. Shen W, Wu J, Kemp PR, Reynolds JR, Grimm NB (2005) Simulating the dynamics of primary productivity of a Sonoran ecosystem: model parameterization and validation. Ecol Model 189:1–24

  40. Solomon PA, Fall T, Salmon L, Cass GR, Gray HA, Davidson A (1989) Chemical characteristics of PM10 aerosols collected in the Los Angeles area. J Air Waste Manage Assoc 9:154–163

  41. Sponseller RA, Fisher SG (2008) The influence of drainage networks on patterns of soil respiration in a desert catchment. Ecology 89:1089–1100

  42. Sponseller RA (2007) Precipitation pulses and soil CO2 flux in a Sonoran desert ecosystem. Glob Chang Biol 13:426–436

  43. Stroud JL, Paton GI, Semple KT (2007) Microbe-aliphatic hydrocarbon interactions in soil: implications for biodegradation and bioremediation. J Appl Microbiol 102:1239–1253

  44. USDA (1974) Soil Survey of Eastern Maricopa and Northern Pinal Counties, Arizona. United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service. p 61

  45. USDA (1977) Soil Survey of Maricopa County, Arizona, Central Part. United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service. p 117

  46. USDA (1986) Soil Survey of Aguila-Carefree Area, Parts of Maricopa and Pinal Counties, Arizona. United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service. p 306

  47. USDA (1997) Soil Survey of Gila Bend-Ajo Area, Arizona, Parts of Maricopa and Pima Counties. United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service. p 163

  48. USDA (1998) Soil Survey of Gila River Indian Reservation, Arizona, Parts of Maricopa and Pima Counties. United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service. p 232

  49. Venkataraman C, Reddy CK, Josson S, Reddy MS (2002) Aerosol size and chemical characteristics at Mumbai, India, during the INDOEX-IFP (1999). Atmos Environ 36:1979–1991

  50. Whitby KT (1978) Physical characteristics of sulfur aerosols. Atmos Environ 12:135–159

  51. Wu J, Joergensen RG, Pommerening B, Chaussod R, Brookes PC (1990) Measurement of soil microbial biomass C by fumigation extraction – an automated procedure. Soil Biol Biochem 22:1167–1169

  52. Yin J, Harrison RM (2008) Pragmatic mass closure study for PM1.0, PM2.5, and PM10 at roadside, urban background and rural sites. Atmos Environ 42:980–988

  53. Yin J, Harrison RM, Chen Q, Rutter A, Schauer JJ (2010) Source apportionment of fine particles at urban background and rural sites in the UK atmosphere. Atmos Environ 44:841–851

  54. Ye B, Ji X, Yang H, Yao X, Chan CK, Cadle SH, Chan T, Mulawa PA (2003) Concentration and chemical composition of PM2.5 in Shanghai for a 1-year period. Atmos Environ 37:499–510

  55. Zak JC, Willig MR, Moorhead DL, Wildman HG (1994) Functional diversity of microbial communities: a quantitative approach. Soil Biol Biochem 26:1101–1108

  56. Zhang L, Gong S, Padro J, Barrie L (2001) A size-segregated particle dry deposition scheme for an atmospheric aerosol module. Atmos Environ 35:549–560

  57. Ziska LH, Gebhard DE, Frenz DA, Faulkner S, Singer BD, Straka JG (2003) Cities as harbingers of climate change: common ragweed, urbanization, and public health. J Allergy Clin Immunol 111:290–295

Download references

Acknowledgements

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DEB-0423704 [Central Arizona - Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER)] and the NSF Ecosystem Studies Program (DEB-0514382 and DEB-0514379). Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendation expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF). We thank two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on our manuscript; David Huber, Quincy Stewart, and Sam Norlin for field and laboratory support; and Pierre Herckes for loaning us the high volume air sampler.

Author information

Correspondence to Jason P. Kaye.

Electronic supplementary material

Supplemental online material includes an analysis of the limits of detection and details regarding the C concentrations in atmospheric PM samples (Table S1).

ESM 1

(DOC 78 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kaye, J.P., Eckert, S.E., Gonzales, D.A. et al. Decomposition of urban atmospheric carbon in Sonoran Desert soils. Urban Ecosyst 14, 737–754 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-011-0173-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Carbon deposition
  • Particulate matter
  • Sonoran Desert
  • Soil respiration
  • Urban