Journal of Forestry Research

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 647–656 | Cite as

Effects of six years of simulated N deposition on gross soil N transformation rates in an old-growth temperate forest

  • Peng Tian
  • Jinbo Zhang
  • Christoph Müller
  • Zucong Cai
  • Guangze Jin
Original Paper


Elevated atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition has been detected in many regions of China, but its effects on soil N transformation in temperate forest ecosystems are not well known. We therefore simulated N deposition with four levels of N addition rate (N0, N30, N60, and N120) for 6 years in an old-growth temperate forest in Xiaoxing’an Mountains in Northeastern China. We measured gross N transformation rates in the laboratory using 15N tracing technology to explore the effects of N deposition on soil gross N transformations taking advantage of N deposition soils. No significant differences in gross soil N transformation rates were observed after 6 years of N deposition with various levels of N addition rate. For all N deposition soils, the gross NH4 + immobilization rates were consistently lower than the gross N mineralization rates, leading to net N mineralization. Nitrate (NO3 ) was primarily produced via oxidation of NH4 + (i.e., autotrophic nitrification), whereas oxidation of organic N (i.e., heterotrophic nitrification) was negligible. Differences between the quantity of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and ammonia-oxidizing archaea were not significant for any treatment, which likely explains the lack of a significant effect on gross nitrification rates. Gross nitrification rates were much higher than the total NO3 consumption rates, resulting in a build-up of NO3 , which highlights the high risk of N losses via NO3 leaching or gaseous N emissions from soils. This response is opposite that of typical N-limited temperate forests suffering from N deposition, suggesting that the investigated old-growth temperate forest ecosystem is likely to approach N saturation.


N deposition Gross soil N transformation Temperate forest ecosystem 15N tracing technology 


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Copyright information

© Northeast Forestry University and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peng Tian
    • 1
  • Jinbo Zhang
    • 2
    • 3
  • Christoph Müller
    • 4
    • 5
  • Zucong Cai
    • 2
    • 3
  • Guangze Jin
    • 1
  1. 1.College of ForestryNortheast Forestry UniversityHarbinPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Geography SciencesNanjing Normal UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and ApplicationNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Department of Plant Ecology (IFZ)Justus-Liebig University GiessenGiessenGermany
  5. 5.School of Biology and Environmental ScienceUniversity College DublinDublinIreland

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