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The fate of leaf-litter N under contrasting pedo-climatic conditions in south-western Siberia
- Brédoire, Félix, Zeller, Bernd, Kayler, Zachary E., Barsukov, Pavel A., Nikitich, Polina, Rusalimova, Olga, Bakker, Mark R., Bashuk, Alexander, Sainte-Marie, Julien, Didier, Serge, Legout, Arnaud, Derrien, Delphine
- Soil biology & biochemistry 2019 v.135 pp. 331-342
- drought, forest steppe, forests, freezing, grasses, land use change, models, organic matter, snowmelt, soil profiles, stable isotopes, summer, surface area, taiga, terrestrial ecosystems, topsoil, winter, Siberia
- Nitrogen (N) made available through the decomposition of organic matter is a major source for plants in terrestrial ecosystems. N cycling in Siberia is however poorly documented despite the region representing a substantial surface area of the globe.We studied the influence of pedo-climate (using two forest-steppe and two southern taiga sites) and vegetation type (aspen forest and grassland) on the redistribution of N released from decomposing 15N-labelled leaf-litter in south-western (SW) Siberia. A model of N dynamics was fit to field measurements that yielded estimates of N mean residence time (MRT) within litter and soil layers, as well as the proportion of N transferred from one layer to another.The release of N from the aspen litter was slower in the forest-steppe (MRT in litter: 2.9–4.6 years) than in the southern taiga (0.9–1.5 years), likely because winter soil freezing and summer drought slowed decomposition in the forest-steppe. In contrast, no difference between the bioclimatic zones was observed for the grass litter (MRT 1.2–1.6 years), suggesting litter chemistry outweighs pedo-climate in these zones. While most of the vertical transfer of N down the soil profile occurred during the vegetative season, important losses were observed after snow-melt. Over three years, the transfer of N within the soil profile was deeper in the southern taiga sites than in the forest-steppe, and in forest than in grassland. In the topsoil, the MRT of N was longer in grassland (4.9–9.4 years) than in forest (1.5–2.1 years) but there were no pronounced differences between bioclimatic zones.The detailed and quantitative view of current N cycling in SW Siberia provided in this study may serve as the basis for informing ecosystem models that anticipate future climate and land-use changes.