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Gross nitrification rates in four Japanese forest soils: heterotrophic versus autotrophic and the regulation factors for the nitrification

Kuroiwa, Megumi, Koba, Keisuke, Isobe, Kazuo, Tateno, Ryunosuke, Nakanishi, Asami, Inagaki, Yoshiyuki, Toda, Hiroto, Otsuka, Shigeto, Senoo, Keishi, Suwa, Yuichi, Yoh, Muneoki, Urakawa, Rieko, Shibata, Hideaki
Journal of forest research 2011 v.16 no.5 pp. 363-373
acetylene, climate, forest soils, forests, nitrification, soil pH, Japan
Measurements of gross NH 4 + and NO 3 − production in forest soils were conducted using the 15N pool dilution method. Mineral topsoils (0–10 cm depth) were collected from four forests from northern to southern Japan with a natural climate gradient to elucidate the mechanisms regulating gross nitrification rates in forest soils. Additionally, we attempted to evaluate the relative importance of heterotrophic nitrification in gross total nitrification using acetylene as a specific inhibitor of autotrophic nitrification. Distinct differences were found among sites in the gross rates of NH 4 + production (3.1–11.4 mg N kg−1 day−1) and gross total nitrification (0.0–6.1 mg N kg−1 day−1). The rates of gross heterotrophic nitrification were low in this study, indicating that heterotrophic nitrification is of minor importance in most forest mineral topsoils in Japan. Significant relations were found between gross autotrophic nitrification and gross NH 4 + production, soil N, and soil C concentrations, but none was found between gross autotrophic nitrification and soil pH. We determined the critical value of the gross NH 4 + production rates for gross autotrophic nitrification under which no gross autotrophic nitrification occurred, as well as the critical soil C/N ratio above which gross autotrophic nitrification ceased. Results show that tight coupling of production and consumption of NH 4 + prevents autotrophic nitrifiers from utilizing NH 4 + as long as NH 4 + availability is low.