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Temperature sensitivity of soil respiration to nitrogen and phosphorous fertilization: Does soil initial fertility matter?

Sun, Qiqi, Wang, Rui, Wang, Ying, Du, Lanlan, Zhao, Man, Gao, Xin, Hu, Yaxian, Guo, Shengli
Geoderma 2018 v.325 pp. 172-182
agroecosystems, carbon, carbon cycle, catechol oxidase, cell respiration, cellulose 1,4-beta-cellobiosidase, climate, cropping systems, enzyme activity, fertilizer application, global warming, mineral fertilizers, models, nitrogen, phosphorus, soil, soil fertility, soil microorganisms, soil productivity, soil respiration, temperature, terrestrial ecosystems, winter wheat, China
Temperature sensitivity of soil respiration (Q10) is an important parameter when modeling the effects of global warming on terrestrial ecosystem carbon release. Widely applied chemical fertilizers can significantly affect soil productivity and carbon cycling in agroecosystems. However, little is known about how Q10 responds to chemical fertilization under different levels of initial soil fertility. On the Chinese Loess Plateau, changes in soil respiration rates and Q10 were investigated in soils of two fertility levels: low fertility (L) and high fertility (H). For each soil fertility level, there was one control plot and one chemical fertilized plot (+NP), which in total formed four treatments: L, L + NP, H and H + NP. All the treatments were replicated for three times on a continuous winter wheat cropping system. Respiration rates of surface soil in each treatment were in situ monitored from October 2010 through September 2015. Our results showed that after NP fertilization, soil respiration rates were increased by 46% in low fertility soil, yet only by 14% in high fertility soil (P < 0.05). The Q10 after NP fertilization was significantly decreased by 6.9% in low fertility soil, but was unchanged in the high fertility soil. The Q10 variation might be attributed to the different response of microbial respiration Q10 in the two soils. The decreased Q10 with NP fertilization in the low fertility soil was possibly due to N-induced increase of substrate quality for soil microbes and increased activities of both cellobiohydrolase and polyphenol oxidase. In the high fertility soil, the unchanged Q10 with NP fertilization may be the integrated result of less affected substrate quality and neutral response of polyphenol oxidase activity. Overall, our results suggested that the effects of NP fertilization on soil respiration and its temperature sensitivity varied with soil initial fertility levels, and therefore must be properly accounted for when estimating potential effects of local agricultural management to regional agroecosystems under future climate conditions.