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Composition and variation of soil δ15N stable isotope in natural ecosystems

Shan, Yan, Huang, Mingbin, Suo, Lizhu, Zhao, Xiaofang, Wu, Lianhai
Catena 2019
atmospheric precipitation, ecosystems, forest land, grasslands, land use, least squares, nitrogen, nitrogen cycle, shrublands, soil organic carbon, soil texture, stable isotopes, total nitrogen, China
The natural abundance of δ15N in soils is a simple tool for understanding ecosystem nitrogen cycling. However, the main drivers for soil δ15N in different natural land use types are not clear enough. To investigate the main drivers for soil δ15N in different land uses, we measured δ15N in the top 10 cm of the soil along a precipitation gradient with various land uses on the Loess Plateau of China, which covers a total area of 620,000 km2 and is one of the most erodible area in the world, to determine effects of climatic, soil and vegetation factors on soil δ15N and the relationships between them using the partial least squares regression (PLSR) method. Soil δ15N ranged from 1‰ to 9‰ on the Loess Plateau with an average of 5.8‰ in forest lands, 5.6‰ in shrub lands, and 4.8‰ in grasslands. Calculated variable influence on projection by PLSR showed that both soil properties (including soil organic carbon content, total nitrogen content and soil texture) and mean annual precipitation influenced soil δ15N strongly. In addition, site elevation also influenced soil δ15N strongly in forest lands. The dominant controls of soil δ15N varied among three land use types on the Chinese Loess Plateau, and PLSR would be a reasonable tool to predict soil δ15N.