Carbon mineralization is promoted by phosphorus and reduced by nitrogen addition in the organic horizon of northern hardwood forests

TitleCarbon mineralization is promoted by phosphorus and reduced by nitrogen addition in the organic horizon of northern hardwood forests
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsFisk, MC, Santangelo, S, Minick, K
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Volume81
Pagination212 - 218
Date Published2015/02//
ISBN Number0038-0717
KeywordsC mineralization, forest floor, Microbial nutrient limitation, northern hardwood forest, P limitation
Abstract

Limitations to the respiratory activity of heterotrophic soil microorganisms exert important controls of CO2 efflux from soils. In the northeastern US, ecosystem nutrient status varies across the landscape and changes with forest succession following disturbance, likely impacting soil microbial processes regulating the transformation and emission of carbon (C). We tested whether nitrogen (N) or phosphorus (P) limit the mineralization of soil organic C (SOC) or that of added C sources in the Oe horizon of successional and mature northern hardwood forests in three locations in central New Hampshire, USA. Added N reduced mineralization of C from SOC and from added leaf litter and cellulose. Added P did not affect mineralization from SOC; however, it did enhance mineralization of litter- and cellulose- C in organic horizons from all forest locations. Added N increased microbial biomass N and K2SO4-extractable DON pools, but added P had no effect. Microbial biomass C increased with litter addition but did not respond to either nutrient. The direction of responses to added nutrients was consistent among sites and between forest ages. We conclude that in these organic horizons limitation by N promotes mineralization of C from SOC, whereas limitation by P constrains mineralization of C from new organic inputs. We also suggest that N suppresses respiration in these organic horizons either by relieving the N limitation of microbial biomass synthesis, or by slowing turnover of C through the microbial pool; concurrent measures of microbial growth and turnover are needed to resolve this question.

URLhttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0038071714004088
Short TitleSoil Biology and Biochemistry