Environmental Management

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 213–224 | Cite as

Response of Soil Inorganic Nitrogen to Land Use and Topographic Position in the Cofre de Perote Volcano (Mexico)

  • Adolfo Campos C.Email author


This study addressed the effects of land use and slope position on soil inorganic nitrogen and was conducted in small watersheds. The study covered three land use types: tropical cloud forest, grassland, and coffee crop. To conduct this research, typical slope small watersheds were chosen in each land use type. Slopes were divided into three positions: shoulder, backslope, and footslope. At the center of each slope position, soil sampling was carried out. Soil inorganic nitrogen was measured monthly during a period of 14 months (July 2005–August 2006) with 11 observations. Significant differences in soil NH4 +–N and NO3 –N content were detected for both land use and sampling date effects, as well as for interactions. A significant slope position-by-sampling date interaction was found only in coffee crop for NO3 –N content. In tropical cloud forest and grassland, high soil NH4 +–N and low NO3 –N content were recorded, while soil NO3 –N content was high in coffee crop. Low NO3 –N contents could mean a substantial microbial assimilation of NO3 –N, constituting an important mechanism for nitrogen retention. Across the entire land use set, the relationship between soil temperature and soil inorganic N concentration was described by an exponential decay function (N = 33 + 2459exp−0.23T, R 2 = 0.44, P < 0.0001). This study also showed that together, soil temperature and gravimetric soil water content explained more variation in soil inorganic N concentration than gravimetric soil water content alone.


Soil inorganic nitrogen Tropical cloud forest Grassland Coffee crop Slope position Soil environmental factors 



This research was supported by CONACYT (No. 43082). I would like to thank Lourdes Cruz Huerta and Ninfa Portilla for assisting with laboratory analyses and Rosario Landgrave for providing geographical information and a location map for the study sites.


  1. Andersson P, Berggren D, Nilsson I (2002) Indices for N status and nitrate leaching from Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) stands in Sweden. Forest Ecology and Management 157:39–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bernabe N, Williams-Linera G, Palacios-Rios M (1999) Tree ferns in the interior and at the edge of a Mexican cloud forest remnant: spore germination and sporophyte survival and establishment. Biotropica 31:83–88Google Scholar
  3. Booth MS, Stark JM, Rastetter E (2005) Controls on nitrogen cycling in terrestrial ecosystems: a synthetic analysis of literature data. Ecological Monographs 75:139–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Booth MS, Stark JM, Hart SC (2006) Soil-mixing effects on inorganic nitrogen production and consumption in forest and shrubland soils. Plant and Soil 289:5–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bremner JM (1965) Inorganic forms of nitrogen. In: Black CA (ed) Methods of soil analysis. Part 2. Chemical and microbiological properties. Agronomy 9. ASA, Madison, WI, USA, pp 1179–1237Google Scholar
  6. Brubaker SC, Jones AJ, Lewis DT, Frank K (1993) Soil properties associated with slope positions. Soil Science Society of America Journal 57:235–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bruijnzeel LA, Hamilton LS (2000) Decision time for cloud forests. IHP Humid Tropics Programme, Series No. 13, UNESCOGoogle Scholar
  8. Bubb P, May I, Miles L, Sayer J (2004) Cloud forest agenda. UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  9. Carter MR (ed) (1993) Soil sampling and methods of analysis. Canadian society of soil science. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FLGoogle Scholar
  10. Castillo-Campos G (1991) Vegetación y flora del Municipio de Xalapa, Veracruz. Instituto de Ecología A. C., H. Ayuntamiento de Xalapa, Veracruz, p 148Google Scholar
  11. ChJ Still, Foster PN, Schneider SH (1999) Simulating the effects of climate change on tropical montane cloud forests. Nature 398:608–610CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Davidson EA, Matson PA, Vitousek PM, Riley R, Dunkin K, Garciamendez G, Maass JM (1993) Processes regulating soil emissions of NO and N2O in a seasonally dry tropical forest. Ecology 74:130–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fang S, Xie B, Zhang H (2007) Nitrogen dynamics and mineralization in degraded agricultural soil mulched with fresh grass. Plant and Soil 300:269–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Frank DA, Groffman PM (1998) Denitrification in a semi-arid grazing ecosystem. Oecologia 17:564–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Frank DA, Groffman PM, Evans RD, Tracy BF (2000) Ungulate stimulation of N cycling in Yellowstone Park Grasslands. Oecologia 123:116–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fu BJ, Liu SL, Chen LD, Lü YH, Qiu J (2004) Soil quality regime in relation to land cover and slope position across a highly modified slope landscape. Ecological Research 19:111–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Goodale CL, Aber JD (2001) The long-term effects of land use history on N cycling in northern hardwood forests. Ecological Applications 11:253–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hamilton LS, Juvik JO, Scatena FN (eds) (1994) Tropical montane cloud forests. Springer-Verlag, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Hart SC, Nason GE, Myrold DD, Perry DA (1994) Dynamics of gross nitrogen transformations in an old-growth forest: the carbon connection. Ecology 75:880–891CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hayatsu M, Tago K, Saito M (2008) Various players in the nitrogen cycle: diversity and functions of the microorganisms involved in nitrification and denitrification. Soil Science and Plant Nutrition 54:33–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hoffmann O (1993) Rumbos y Paisajes de Xico: Geografía de un Municipio de la Sierra de Veracruz. ORSTOM, Instituto de Ecología, A. C., Xalapa, Veracruz, MexicoGoogle Scholar
  22. Isaac ME, Timmer VR (2007) Comparing in situ methods for measuring nitrogen mineralization under mock precipitation regimes. Canadian Journal of Soil Science 87:39–42Google Scholar
  23. IUSS Working Group WRB (2006) World reference base for soil resources. World Soil Resources Reports No. 103. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  24. Kirschbaum MUF (2006) The temperature dependence of organic matter decomposition: still a topic of debate. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 38:2510–2518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Landi A, Mermut AR, Anderson DW (2004) Carbon distribution in a hummocky landscape from Saskatchewan, Canada. Soil Science Society of America Journal 68:175–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lin B, Liu Q, Wu Y, He H (2006) Nutrient and litter patterns in three subalpine coniferous forest of Western Sichuan, China. Pedosphere 16:380–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Liu W, Zhang Z, Wan S (2009) Predominant role of water in regulating soil and microbial respiration and their responses to climate change in a semiarid grassland. Global Change Biology 15:184–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Luizão RCC, Luizão FJ, Paiva RQ, Monteiro TF, Sousa LS, Kruijt B (2004) Variation of carbon and nitrogen cycling processes along a topographic gradient in a central Amazonian forest. Global Change Biology 10:592–600CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Martin WKE, Timmer VR (2006) Capturing spatial variability of soil and litter properties in a forest stand by landform segmentation procedures. Geoderma 132:169–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Morris SJ, Boerner REJ (1998) Landscape patterns of nitrogen mineralization and nitrification in southern Ohio hardwood forests. Landscape Ecology 13:215–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Muñoz-Villers LE, Equihua M (2007) Generación de escurrimientos y rendimientos hídricos en microcuencas de bosque mesófilo de montaña maduro y secundario (regeneración), en el centro de Veracruz, México. En Reporte técnico final del proyecto No. INE/A1-064/2007. Instituto de Ecología, A. C.-Vrije Universiteit Ámsterdam-Instituto Nacional de Ecología. Xalapa, Ver., MéxicoGoogle Scholar
  32. Murty D, Kirschbaum MUF, McMurtrie RE, McGilvray H (2002) Does conversion of forest to agricultural land change soil carbon and nitrogen? A review of the literature. Global Change Biology 8:105–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Neill C, Piccolo MC, Cerri CC, Steudler PA, Melillo JM, Brito MM (1997) Net nitrogen mineralization and net nitrification rates in soils following deforestation for pasture across the southwestern Brazilian Amazon Basin landscape. Oecologia 110:243–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Norton JB, Sandor JA, White CS (2003) Hillslope soils and organic matter dynamics within a Native American agroecosystem on the Colorado Plateau. Soil Science Society of America Journal 67:225–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Owen JS, Wang MK, Wang CH, King HB, Sun HL (2003) Net N mineralization and nitrification rates in a forested ecosystem in northeastern Taiwan. Forest Ecology and Management 176:519–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Reich PB, Hobbie SE, Lee T, Ellsworth DS, West JB, Tilman D, Knops JMH, Naeem S, Trost J (2006) Nitrogen limitation constrains sustainability of ecosystem response to CO2. Nature 440:922–925CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rzedowski J (1978) Vegetación de México. Limusa, México, pp 315–326Google Scholar
  38. Rzedowski J (1996) Análisis preliminar de la flora vascular de los bosques mesófilos de montaña de México. Acta Botánica Mexicana 35:25–44Google Scholar
  39. SAS Institute Inc. (2000) SAS User′s Guide: Statistic. SAS Institute, Inc, Cary, NC, USAGoogle Scholar
  40. Schlesinger WH (1997) Biogeochemistry. An analysis of global change. Academic Press, San Diego, USAGoogle Scholar
  41. Shaver GR, Johnson LC, Cades DH, Murray G, Laundre JA, Rastetter EB, Nadelhoffer KJ, Giblin AE (1998) Biomass and CO2 flux in wet sedge tundra: responses to nutrients, temperature, and light. Ecological Monographs 68:75–97Google Scholar
  42. Sierra J (1997) Temperature and soil moisture dependence of N mineralization in intact soil cores. Soil Biological and Biochemistry 29:1557–1563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Soon YK, Malhi SS (2005) Soil nitrogen dynamics as affected by landscape position and nitrogen fertilizer. Canadian Journal of Soil Science 85:579–587Google Scholar
  44. Stark JM, Hart SC (1997) High rates of nitrification and nitrate turnover in undisturbed coniferous forests. Nature 385:61–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Thwaites RN, Slater BK (2000) Soil–landscape resource assessment for plantations: a conceptual framework towards an explicit multi-scale approach. Forest Ecology and Management 138:123–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Vitousek PM, Howarth RW (1991) Nitrogen limitation on land and in the sea: how can it occur? Biogeochemical 13:87–115Google Scholar
  47. Wang C, Wan S, Xing X, Zhang L, Han X (2006) Temperature and soil moisture interactively affected soil net N mineralization in temperate grassland in Northern China. Soil Biological and Biochemistry 38:1101–1110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Williams-Linera G (1992) Ecología del paisaje y el bosque mesófilo de montaña en el centro de Veracruz. Ciencia y Desarrollo 105:132–138Google Scholar
  49. Williams-Linera G (2003) Temporal and spatial phenological variation of understory shrubs in a tropical montane cloud forest. Biotropica 35:28–36Google Scholar
  50. Yimer F, Ledin S, Abdelkadir A (2006) Soil property variations in relation to topographic aspect and vegetation community in the south-eastern highlands of Ethiopia. Forest Ecology and Management 232:90–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Ecología, A. C.VeracruzMexico

Personalised recommendations