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Nitrogen additions affect litter quality and soil biochemical properties in a peatland of Northeast China

March 1, 2017

Nitrogen (N) is a limiting nutrient in many peatland ecosystems. Enhanced N deposition, a major component of global climate change, affects ecosystem carbon (C) balance and alters soil C storage by changing plant and soil properties. However, the effects of enhanced N deposition on peatland ecosystems are poorly understood. We conducted a two-year N additions field experiment in a peatland dominated by Eriophorum vaginatum in the Da Xing’an Mountains, Northeast China. Four levels of N treatments were applied: (1) CK (no N added), (2) N1 (6 g N m−2 yr−1), (3) N2 (12 g N m−2 yr−1), and (4) N3 (24 g N m−2  yr−1). Plant and soil material was harvested at the end of the second growing season. N additions increased litter N and phosphorus (P) content, as well as β-glucosidase, invertase, and acid-phosphatase activity, but decreased litter C:N and C:P ratios. Litter carbon content remained unchanged. N additions increased available NH4+–N and NO3–N as well as total Gram-positive (Gram+), Gram-negative (Gram−), and total bacterial phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA) in shallow soil (0–15 cm depth). An increase in these PLFAs was accompanied by a decrease in soil labile organic C (microbial biomass carbon and dissolved organic carbon), and appeared to accelerate decomposition and reduce the stability of the soil C pool. Invertase and urease activity in shallow soils and acid-phosphatase activity in deep soils (15–30 cm depth) was inhibited by N additions. Together, these findings suggest that an increase in N deposition in peatlands could accelerate litter decomposition and the loss of labile C, as well as alter microbial biomass and function.

Publication Year 2017
Title Nitrogen additions affect litter quality and soil biochemical properties in a peatland of Northeast China
DOI 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2016.12.025
Authors Yanyu Song, Changchun Song, Henan Meng, Christopher M. Swarzenski, Xianwei Wang, Wenwen Tan
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecological Engineering
Index ID 70191823
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center