Skip to main content

Do “hot moments” become hotter under climate change? Soil nitrogen dynamics from a climate manipulation experiment in a post-harvest forest

Abstract

Whole-tree forest harvest can increase soil nitrous oxide (N2O) effluxes and leaching of nitrogen (N) from soils. These altered N dynamics are often linked to harvesting effects on microclimate, suggesting that this “hot moment” for N cycling may become hotter with climate change. We hypothesized that increases in temperature and precipitation during this post-harvest period would increase availability of soil mineral N and soil-atmosphere N2O efflux. To test this hypothesis we implemented a climate manipulation experiment after a forest harvest, and measured soil N2O fluxes and inorganic N accumulating on ion exchange resins. Climate treatments were: control (A, ambient), heated (H, +2.5 °C), wetted (W, +23 % precipitation), and a two-factor treatment (H+W). For all treatments, the first year after harvest had highest N2O efflux and resin N. Wetting significantly increased cumulative soil N2O fluxes, but only when soils were not heated too. The cumulative soil-to-atmosphere N2O efflux from W (5.8 mg N2O–N m−2) was significantly higher than A (−1.9 mg N2O–N m−2), but H+W (~0 mg N2O–N m−2) was similar to A. Regardless of wetting, heating increased resin N, but only on certain dates. Cumulative resin N was on average 125 % greater in the H plots than non-heated plots. Thus, changes in temperature and precipitation each impart distinct changes to the soil N cycle. Heating increased resin N regardless of water inputs, while wetting increasing N2O but not when combined with heating. Our results suggest that climate change may exacerbate soil N losses from whole-tree harvest in the future, but the form and quantity of N loss will depend on how the future climate changes.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Abbreviations

A:

Ambient treatment

NH4 :

Ammonium

H:

Heated treatment

H+W:

Heated and wetted treatment

NO3 :

Nitrate

N2O:

Nitrous oxide

W:

Wetted treatment

References

  • Aber JD (1992) Nitrogen cycling and nitrogen saturation in temperate forest ecosystems. Trends Ecol Evol 7:220–224

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Adviento-Borbe MAA (2005) Understanding soil greenhouse gas fluxes in intensive maized-based cropping systems. PhD Thesis, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, pp 54–86

  • Alves BJR, Smith KA, Flores RA et al (2012) Selection of the most suitable sampling time for static chambers for the estimation of daily mean N2O flux from soils. Soil Biol Biochem 46:129–135

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ambus P, Robertson GP (1998) Automated near-continuous measurement of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide fluxes from soil. Soil Sci Soc Am J 62:394–400

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bai E, Li S, Xu W et al (2013) A meta-analysis of experimental warming effects on terrestrial nitrogen pools and dynamics. New Phytol 199:441–451

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barnard R, Leadley PW, Hungate BA (2005) Global change, nitrification, and denitrification: a review. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 19:1–13

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bernal S, Hedin LO, Likens GE et al (2012) Complex response of the forest nitrogen cycle to climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109:3406–3411

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Binkley D, Brown TC (1993) Forest practices as nonpoint sources of pollution in North America. J Am Water Resour Assoc 29:729–740

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bormann FH, Likens GE, Melillo JM (1977) Nitrogen budget for an aggrading northern hardwood forest ecosystem. Science 196:981–983

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bowatte S, Tillman R, Carran A et al (2008) In situ ion exchange resin membrane (IEM) technique to measure soil mineral nitrogen dynamics in grazed pastures. Biol Fertil Soils 44:805–813

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bowden WB, Bormann FH (1986) Transport and loss of nitrous oxide in soil water after forest clear-cutting. Science 80:233–867

    Google Scholar 

  • Bradford MA, Davies CA, Frey SD et al (2008) Thermal adaptation of soil microbial respiration to elevated temperature. Ecol Lett 11:1316–1327

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bradford MA, Wallenstein MD, Allison SD et al (2009) Decreased mass specific respiration under experimental warming is robust to the microbial biomass method employed. Ecol Lett 12:E15–E18

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brown J, Blankinship J, Niboyet A et al (2012) Effects of multiple global change treatments on soil N2O fluxes. Biogeochemistry 109:85–100

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Butler SM, Melillo JM, Johnson JE et al (2012) Soil warming alters nitrogen cycling in a New England forest: implications for ecosystem function and structure. Oecologia 168:819–828

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cantarel AAM, Bloor JMG, Pommier T et al (2012) Four years of experimental climate change modifies the microbial drivers of N2O fluxes in an upland grassland ecosystem. Glob Chang Biol 18:2520–2531

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carrillo Y, Dijkstra F, Pendall E et al (2012) Controls over soil nitrogen pools in a semiarid grassland under elevated CO2 and warming. Ecosystems 15:761–774

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Castellano MJ, Schmidt JP, Kaye JP et al (2010) Hydrological and biogeochemical controls on the timing and magnitude of nitrous oxide flux across an agricultural landscape. Glob Chang Biol 16:2711–2720

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Davidson EA, Janssens IA (2006) Temperature sensitivity of soil carbon decomposition and feedbacks to climate change. Nature 440:165–173

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Davidson EA, Keller M, Erickson HE et al (2000) Testing a conceptual model of soil emissions of nitrous and nitric oxides. Bioscience 50:667–680

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Davidson EA, Savage K, Verchot LV, Navarro R (2002) Minimizing artifacts and biases in chamber-based measurements of soil respiration. Agric For Meteorol 113:21–37

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dijkstra FA, Prior SA, Runion GB et al (2012) Effects of elevated carbon dioxide and increased temperature on methane and nitrous oxide fluxes: evidence from field experiments. Front Ecol Environ 10:520–527

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Du R, Lu D, Wang G (2006) Diurnal, seasonal, and inter-annual variations of N2O fluxes from native semi-arid grassland soils of inner Mongolia. Soil Biol Biochem 38:3474–3482

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Duggin JA, Voigt GK, Bormann FH (1991) Autotrophic and heterotrophic nitrification in response to clear-cutting northern hardwood forest. Soil Biol Biochem 23:779–787

  • Durán J, Delgado-Baquerizo M, Rodríguez A et al (2013) Ionic exchange membranes (IEMs): a good indicator of soil inorganic N production. Soil Biol Biochem 57:964–968

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Easterling, D.R., T. R. Karl, E.H. Mason, P. Y. Hughes, and D. P. Bowman (1996) United States Historical Climatology Network (U.S. HCN) monthly temperature and precipitation data. ORNL/CDIAC-87, NDP-019/R3. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. [Online] (verified 2011)

  • Frazer DW, McColl JG, Powers RF (1990) Soil nitrogen mineralization in a clearcutting chronosequence in a northern California conifer forest. Soil Sci Soc Am J 54:1145–152

  • Frey SD, Drijber R, Smith H, Melillo J (2008) Microbial biomass, functional capacity, and community structure after 12 years of soil warming. Soil Biol Biochem 40:2904–2907

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gillam KM, Zebarth BJ, Burton DL (2008) Nitrous oxide emissions from denitrification and the partitioning of gaseous losses as affected by nitrate and carbon addition and soil aeration. Can J Soil Sci 88:133–143

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gödde M, Conrad R (1999) Immediate and adaptational temperature effects on nitric oxide production and nitrous oxide release from nitrification and denitrification in two soils. Biol Fertil Soils 30:33–40

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hartmann M, Howes CG, VanInsberghe D et al (2012) Significant and persistent impact of timber harvesting on soil microbial communities in Northern coniferous forests. ISME J 6:2199–2218

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hashimoto S, Suzuki M (2004) The impact of forest clear-cutting on soil temperature: a comparison between before and after cutting, and between clear-cut and control sites. J For Res 9:125–132

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hassett JE, Zak DR (2005) Aspen harvest intensity decreases microbial biomass, extracellular enzyme activity, and soil nitrogen cycling. Soil Sci Soc Am J 691:227–235

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hayhoe K, Wake C, Huntington T et al (2007) Past and future changes in climate and hydrological indicators in the US Northeast. Clim Dyn 28:381–407

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hodge A, Robinson D, Fitter A (2000) Are microorganisms more effective than plants at competing for nitrogen? Trends Plant Sci 5:304–308

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Holmes WE, Zak DR (1999) Soil microbial control of nitrogen loss following clear-cut in northern hardwood ecosystems. Ecol Appl 9:202–215

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Huang J, Lacey ST, Ryan PJ (1996) Impact of forest harvesting on the hydraulic properties of surface soil. Soil Sci 161:79–86

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Iqbal J, Castellano MJ, Parkin TB (2013) Evaluation of photoacoustic infrared spectroscopy for simultaneous measurement of N2O and CO2 gas concentrations and fluxes at the soil surface. Glob Chang Biol 19:327–336

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jerabkova L, Prescott CE, Titus BD et al (2011) A meta-analysis of the effects of clearcut and variable-retention harvesting on soil nitrogen fluxes in boreal and temperate forests. Can J For Res 41:1852–1870

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Johnson DW, Curtis PS (2001) Effects of forest management on soil C and N storage: meta analysis. For Ecol Manag 140:227–238

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kaye JP, Hart SC (1997) Competition for nitrogen between plants and soil microorganisms. Trends Ecol Evol 12:139–143

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kellman L, Kavanaugh K (2008) Nitrous oxide dynamics in managed northern forest soil profiles: is production offset by consumption? Biogeochemistry 90:115–128

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kettler TA, Doran JW, Gilbert TL (2001) Simplified method for soil particle-size determination to accompany soil-quality analyses. Soil Sci Soc Am J 65:849–852

  • Kimball BA (2005) Theory and performance of an infrared heater for ecosystem warming. Glob Chang Biol 11:2041–2056

    Google Scholar 

  • Kreutzweiser DP, Hazlett PW, Gunn JM (2008) Logging impacts on the biogeochemistry of boreal forest soils and nutrient export to aquatic systems: a review. Environ Rev 16:157–179

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kurganova IN, Lopes de Gerenyu VO (2010) Effect of the temperature and moisture on the N2O emission from some arable soils. Eurasian Soil Sci 43:919–928

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Li C, Frolking S, Frolking TA (1992) A model of nitrous oxide evolution from soil driven by rainfall events: 1. Model structure and sensitivity. J Geophys Res 97:9759–9776

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Likens GE, Bormann FH, Johnson NM et al (1970) Effects of forest cutting and herbicide treatment on nutrient budgets in the Hubbard Brook watershed-ecosystem. Ecol Monogr 40:23–47

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Linn DM, Doran JW (1984) Effect of water-filled pore space on carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide production in tilled and nontilled soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 48:1267–1272

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lukewille A, Wright R (1997) Experimentally increased soil temperature causes release of nitrogen at a boreal forest catchment in southern Norway. Glob Chang Biol 3:13–21

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ma WK, Farrell RE, Siciliano SD (2011) Nitrous oxide emissions from ephemeral wetland soils are correlated with microbial community composition. Front Microbiol 2:1–11

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mann LK, Johnson DW, West DC et al (1988) Effects of whole-tree and stem-only clearcutting on postharvest hydrologic losses, nutrient capital, and regrowth. For Sci 34:412–428

    Google Scholar 

  • Manzoni S, Schimel JP, Porporato A (2011) Responses of soil microbial communities to water stress: results from a meta-analysis. Ecology 93:930–938

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Matson PA, Vitousek PM (1981) Nitrogen mineralization and nitrification potentials following clearcutting in the Hoosier National Forest, Indiana. For Sci 27:781–791

    Google Scholar 

  • Mattson KG, Smith HC (1993) Detrital organic matter and soil CO2 efflux in forests regenerating from cutting in West Virginia. Soil Biol Biochem 25:1241–1248

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McClain ME, Boyer EW, Dent CL et al (2003) Biogeochemical hot spots and hot moments at the interface of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Ecosystems 6:301–312

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McDaniel MD, Kaye JP, Kaye MW (2012) Increased temperature and precipitation had limited effects on soil extracellular enzyme activities in a post-harvest forest. Soil Biol Biochem 56:90–98

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McDaniel MD, Kaye JP, Kaye MW, Bruns MA (2014a) Climate change interactions affect soil carbon dioxide efflux and microbial functioning in a post-harvest forest. Oecologia 174:1437–1448

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McDaniel MD, Wagner RJ, Rollinson CR et al (2014b) Microclimate and ecological threshold responses in a warming and wetting experiment following whole tree harvest. Theor Appl Climatol 116:287–299

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Melillo JM, Steudler PA, Aber JD et al (2002) Soil warming and carbon-cycle feedbacks to the climate system. Science 298:2173–2176

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Melillo JM, Butler S, Johnson J et al (2011) Soil warming, carbon–nitrogen interactions, and forest carbon budgets. Proc Natl Acad Sci 108:9508–9512

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Miller RD, Johnson DD (1964) The effect of soil moisture tension on carbon dioxide evolution, nitrification, and nitrogen mineralization. Soil Sci Soc Am J 28:644–647

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mitchell DC, Castellano MJ, Sawyer JE, Pantoja J (2013) Cover crop effects on nitrous oxide emissions: role of mineralizable carbon. Soil Sci Soc Am J 5:1765–1773

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mulvaney RL, Sparks DL, Page AL et al (1996) Nitrogen-inorganic forms. Methods Soil Anal 3:1123–1184

    Google Scholar 

  • Myers RJK, Weier KL, Campbell CA (1982) Quantitative relationship between net nitrogen mineralization and moisture content of soils. Can J Soil Sci 62:111–124

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pardo LH, Hemond HF, Montoya JP et al (2002) Response of the natural abundance of 15 N in forest soils and foliage to high nitrate loss following clear-cutting. Can J For Res 32:1126–1136

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Patil RH, Laegdsmand M, Olesen JE, Porter JR (2010) Effect of soil warming and rainfall patterns on soil N cycling in Northern Europe. Agric Ecosyst Environ 139:195–205

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Peterjohn WT, Melillo JM, Steudler PA et al (1994) Responses of trace gas efluxes and N availability to experimentally elevated soil temperatures. Ecol Appl 4:617–625

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pietikåinen J, Pettersson M, Bååth E (2005) Comparison of temperature effects on soil respiration and bacterial and fungal growth rates. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 52:49–58

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Qian P, Schoenau JJ (2002) Practical applications of ion exchange resins in agricultural and environmental soil research. Can J Soil Sci 82:9–21

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ravishankara AR, Daniel JS, Portmann RW (2009) Nitrous oxide (N2O): the dominant ozone-depleting substance emitted in the 21st century. Science 326:123–125

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rodrigo A, Recous S, Neel C, Mary B (1997) Modelling temperature and moisture effects on C–N transformations in soils: comparison of nine models. Ecol Model 102:325–339

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rollinson CR, Kaye MW, Leites LP (2012) Community assembly responses to warming and increased precipitation in an early successional forest. Ecosphere 3:122

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rustad L, Campbell J, Marion G et al (2001) A meta-analysis of the response of soil respiration, net nitrogen mineralization, and aboveground plant growth to experimental ecosystem warming. Oecologia 126:543–562

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schaufler G, Kitzler B, Schindlbacher A et al (2010) Greenhouse gas emissions from European soils under different land use: effects of soil moisture and temperature. Eur J Soil Sci 61:683–696

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shaw MR, Harte J (2001) Response of nitrogen cycling to simulated climate change: differential responses along a subalpine ecotone. Glob Chang Biol 7:193–210

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sims GK, Ellsworth TR, Mulvaney RL (1995) Microscale determination of inorganic nitrogen in water and soil extracts. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 26:303–316

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Skopp J, Jawson MD, Doran JW (1990) Steady-state aerobic microbial activity as a function of soil water content. Soil Sci Soc Am J 54:1619–1625

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith KA, Thomson PE, Clayton H et al (1998) Effects of temperature, water content, and nitrogen fertilisation on emissions of nitrous oxide by soils. Atmos Environ 32:3301–3309

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M et al (2007) IPCC, 2007: Climate Change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change

  • Stark J (2000) Nutrient transformations. In: Sala O, Jackson R, Mooney H, Howarth R (eds) Methods ecosystem science SE-15. Springer, New York, pp 215–234

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Stark JM, Hart SC (1997) High rates of nitrification and nitrate turnover in undisturbed coniferous forests. Nature 385:61–64

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Steudler PA, Melillo JM, Bowden RD et al (1991) The effects of natural and human disturbances on soil nitrogen dynamics and trace gas fluxes in a Puerto Rican wet forest. Biotropica 23:356–363

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sullivan BW, Kolb TE, Hart SC et al (2008) Thinning reduces soil carbon dioxide but not methane flux from southwestern USA ponderosa pine forests. For Ecol Manag 255:4047–4055

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tabatabai MA, Ekenler M, Senwo ZN (2010) Significance of enzyme activities in soil nitrogen mineralization. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 41:595–605

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tate KR, Ross DJ, Scott NA et al (2006) Post-harvest patterns of carbon dioxide production, methane uptake and nitrous oxide production in a Pinus radiata D. Don plantation. For Ecol Manag 228:40–50

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Venterea RT (2010) Simplified method for quantifying theoretical underestimation of chamber-based trace gas fluxes. J Environ Qual 39:126–135

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vitousek PM, Matson PA (1985) Disturbance, nitrogen availability, and nitrogen losses in an intensively managed loblolly pine plantation. Ecology 66:1360–1376

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yanai RD, Arthur MA, Siccama TG, Federer CA (2000) Challenges of measuring forest floor organic matter dynamics: repeated measures from a chronosequence. For Ecol Manag 138:273–283

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zak DR, Holmes WE, MacDonald NW, Pregitzer KS (1999) Soil temperature, matric potential, and the kinetics of microbial respiration and nitrogen mineralization. Soil Sci Soc Am J 63:575–584

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhou X, Chen C, Wang Y et al (2013) Soil extractable carbon and nitrogen, microbial biomass and microbial metabolic activity in response to warming and increased precipitation in a semiarid Inner Mongolian grassland. Geoderma 206:24–31

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zuur AF, Ieno EN, Elphick CS (2010) A protocol for data exploration to avoid common statistical problems. Methods Ecol Evol 1:3–14

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Christine Rollinson and Rebekah Wagner for assistance with setting up the experiment, maintenance, and field assistance. Also Sara Eckert and Erica Dreibelbis helped with laboratory and field work. This research was supported by a grant from the Northeastern Regional Center of the Department of Energy National Institute for Climate Change Research (part of the U.S. Department of Energy).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. D. McDaniel.

Additional information

Responsible Editor: Rakesh Dev

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

McDaniel, M.D., Kaye, J.P. & Kaye, M.W. Do “hot moments” become hotter under climate change? Soil nitrogen dynamics from a climate manipulation experiment in a post-harvest forest. Biogeochemistry 121, 339–354 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-014-0001-3

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-014-0001-3

Keywords

  • Ammonium
  • Climate change
  • Forest harvest
  • Nitrate
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Soil