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Seasonality of factors controlling N mineralization rates among slope positions and aspects in cool-temperate deciduous natural forests and larch plantations

Abstract

This study aimed to evaluate the spatial patterns of soil nitrogen (N) transformations in relation to slope aspect and position, and to investigate the main factors controlling N transformation patterns during both the growing and dormant seasons in cool-temperate deciduous natural forests and larch plantations in eastern Hokkaido, northern Japan. Net rates of N mineralization (NRminN) and of nitrification (NRnit) in surface soils on north-facing and lower slopes were higher than those on south-facing and upper slopes, whereas the net rate of ammonium-N production (NRamm) on south-facing and upper slopes was higher than that on north-facing slopes in both the natural forests and larch plantations. Both NRminN and NRnit were higher in the growing than in the dormant season, whereas NRamm was higher in the dormant season. The soil C/N ratio, water content, soil pH and frequency of freeze–thaw cycles were important variables affecting N transformation patterns in any season. In relation to seasonality, the solar radiation index, daily temperature range and earthworm biomass were important controlling factors only during the growing season, and watershed area and soil N concentration only during the dormant season, suggesting that biological control accompanied with wet–dry events were important factors affecting N transformations during the growing season, but that run-off water and chemical controls were important determinants of spatial variation in N transformations during the dormant season.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, with a grant of 22248016 and 25252026 for H. Shibata. This study also was supported in part by the Research Grant for Young Investigators of the Faculty of Agriculture, Kyushu University. Data for vegetation and BA in the natural forests were provided by the Ministry of the Environment Monitoring Sites 1000 Project at the Ashoro Site. We are grateful to Dr. Yasushi Mitsuda for supporting the GIS protocols and calculations.

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Correspondence to Takuo Hishi.

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Hishi, T., Urakawa, R., Tashiro, N. et al. Seasonality of factors controlling N mineralization rates among slope positions and aspects in cool-temperate deciduous natural forests and larch plantations. Biol Fertil Soils 50, 343–356 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00374-013-0863-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00374-013-0863-x

Keywords

  • Earthworms
  • Nitrogen transformation
  • Slope direction
  • Temporal soil freezing
  • Topography