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Responses of soil organic carbon turnover to nitrogen deposition are associated with nitrogen input rates: Derived from soil 14C evidences

Tan, Qiqi, Wang, Guoan, Liu, Xuejun, Hao, Tianxiang, Tan, Wenbing
Environmental pollution 2018 v.238 pp. 500-507
carbon cycle, climate models, ecosystems, elevated atmospheric gases, field experimentation, grasslands, nitrogen, soil, soil organic carbon, soil respiration, China
Elevated atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition has exerted profound influences on ecosystems. Understanding the effects of N deposition on the dynamics of soil organic carbon (SOC) is important in the studies of global carbon cycle. Although many studies have examined the effects of N deposition on SOC turnover using N addition experiments, the effects were reported to be different across studies. Thus, we lack a predictive understanding of how SOC turnover respond to atmospheric N deposition. The inconsistent results could be associated with ecosystem types and N addition rates. This study mainly wants to confirm the argument that the response of SOC turnover to N deposition is related with N input rates. We conducted a field experiment with multiple N addition levels (0, 3, 6, 12, and 24 g N m−2·yr−1) in Inner Mongolia Grassland, China. To better reveal the responses of SOC turnover to N enrichment, this study measured the soil 14C contents, because it can indicate SOC turnover directly. Compared with the control treatment (0 g N m−2·yr−1), N addition inhibits SOC turnover at the addition rate of 3 g N m−2·yr−1, whereas SOC turnover is not affected when N addition rate was 6, 12, and 24 g N m−2·yr−1. Our results suggest that N input rates affect the responses of SOC turnover to N enrichment. Thus, this study can confirm the argument mentioned above. Based on this study, it should be considered in the climate prediction model that varied atmospheric N deposition levels across regions may have different impacts on local SOC turnover. In addition, we also carried out a soil incubation to compare between the results obtained in incubation and that in 14C measurements. Two results are found to be inconsistent with each other. This indicates that soil respiration from incubation experiments could not comprehensively assess the effects of N deposition on SOC turnover.