Journal of Arid Land

, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp 571–580 | Cite as

Interactive effects of soil temperature and moisture on soil N mineralization in a Stipa krylovii grassland in Inner Mongolia, China

  • Yue Li
  • YingHui Liu
  • YaLin Wang
  • Lei Niu
  • Xia Xu
  • YuQiang Tian


Determining soil N mineralization response to soil temperature and moisture changes is challenging in the field due to complicated effects from other factors. In the laboratory, N mineralization is highly dependent on temperature, moisture and sample size. In this study, a laboratory incubation experiment was carefully designed and conducted under controlled conditions to examine the effects of soil temperature and moisture on soil N mineralization using soil samples obtained from the Stipa krylovii grassland in Inner Mongolia, China. Five temperature (i.e. 9°C, 14°C, 22°C, 30°C and 40°C) and five moisture levels (i.e. 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 100% WHC, where WHC is the soil water holding capacity) were included in a full-factorial design. During the 71-day incubation period, microbial biomass carbon (MBC), ammonium nitrogen (NH4 +-N) and nitrate nitrogen (NO3 -N) were measured approximately every 18 days; soil basal respiration for qCO2 index was measured once every 2 days (once a week near the end of the incubation period). The results showed that the mineral N production and net N mineralization rates were positively correlated with temperature; the strongest correlation was observed for temperatures between 30°C and 40°C. The relationships between moisture levels and both the mineral N production and net N mineralization rates were quadratic. The interaction between soil temperature and moisture was significant on N mineralization, i.e. increasing temperatures (moisture) enhanced the sensitivity of N mineralization to moisture (temperature). Our results also showed a positive correlation between the net nitrification rate and temperature, while the correlation between the NH4 +-N content and temperature was insignificant. The net nitrification rate was negatively correlated with high NH4 +-N contents at 80%–100% WHC, suggesting an active denitrification in moist conditions. Moreover, qCO2 index was positively correlated with temperature, especially at 80% WHC. With a low net nitrification rate and high soil basal respiration rate, it was likely that the denitrification concealed the microbial gross mineralization activity; therefore, active soil N mineralization occurred in 60%–80% WHC conditions.


soil N mineralization soil temperature soil moisture Stipa krylovii grassland 


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Copyright information

© Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, the Chinese Academy of Sciences 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yue Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • YingHui Liu
    • 1
    • 3
  • YaLin Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lei Niu
    • 1
    • 3
  • Xia Xu
    • 1
  • YuQiang Tian
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource EcologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Academy of Disaster Reduction and Emergency ManagementBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.College of Resources Science and TechnologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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