Plant effects on soil N mineralization are mediated by the composition of multiple soil organic fractions

D. A. Fornara, R Bardgett, S Steinbeiss, D. R. Zak, G Gleixner, D Tilman

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    Abstract

    Despite the topic of soil nitrogen (N) mineralization being well-studied, very few studies have addressed the relative contribution of different plant and soil variables in influencing soil N mineralization rates, and thus the supply of inorganic N to plants. Here, we used data from a well-studied N-limited grassland to address the relative effects of six plant and soil variables on net and on gross rates of soil N mineralization. We also addressed whether plant effects on soil N mineralization were mediated by changes in C and N concentrations of multiple soil organic matter (SOM) fractions. Regression analyses show that key plant traits (i.e., plant C:N ratios and total root mass) were more important than total C and N concentrations of bulk soil in influencing N mineralization. This was mainly because plant traits influenced the C and N concentration (and C:N ratios) of different SOM fractions, which in turn were significantly associated with changes in net and gross N mineralization. In particular, C:N ratios of a labile soil fraction were negatively related to net soil N mineralization rates, whereas total soil C and N concentrations of more recalcitrant fractions were positively related to gross N mineralization. Our study suggests that changes in belowground N-cycling can be better predicted by simultaneously addressing how plant C:N ratios and root mass affect the composition and distribution of different SOM pools in N-limited grassland systems.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages201-208
    JournalEcological Research
    Volume26
    Issue number1
    Early online date13 Nov 2010
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

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    organic soils
    mineralization
    soil
    carbon nitrogen ratio
    soil organic matter
    grasslands
    soil separates
    nitrogen

    Cite this

    Fornara, D. A., Bardgett, R., Steinbeiss, S., Zak, D. R., Gleixner, G., & Tilman, D. (2011). Plant effects on soil N mineralization are mediated by the composition of multiple soil organic fractions. Ecological Research, 26(1), 201-208. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11284-010-0777-0
    Fornara, D. A. ; Bardgett, R ; Steinbeiss, S ; Zak, D. R. ; Gleixner, G ; Tilman, D. / Plant effects on soil N mineralization are mediated by the composition of multiple soil organic fractions. In: Ecological Research. 2011 ; Vol. 26, No. 1. pp. 201-208.
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    Fornara, DA, Bardgett, R, Steinbeiss, S, Zak, DR, Gleixner, G & Tilman, D 2011, 'Plant effects on soil N mineralization are mediated by the composition of multiple soil organic fractions', Ecological Research, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 201-208. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11284-010-0777-0

    Plant effects on soil N mineralization are mediated by the composition of multiple soil organic fractions. / Fornara, D. A.; Bardgett, R; Steinbeiss, S; Zak, D. R.; Gleixner, G; Tilman, D.

    In: Ecological Research, Vol. 26, No. 1, 01.2011, p. 201-208.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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