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Nitrogen, organic carbon and sulfur cycling in terrestrial ecosystems: linking nitrogen saturation to carbon limitation of soil microbial processes

Kopacek, Jiri; Cosby, Bernard J.; Evans, Christopher D; Hruska, Jakub; Moldan, Filip; Oulehle, Filip; Santruckova, Hana; Tahovska, Karolina; Wright, Richard F.. 2013 Nitrogen, organic carbon and sulfur cycling in terrestrial ecosystems: linking nitrogen saturation to carbon limitation of soil microbial processes. Biogeochemistry, 115. 33-51. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-013-9892-7

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Abstract/Summary

Elevated and chronic nitrogen (N) deposition to N-limited terrestrial ecosystems can lead to ‘N saturation’, with resultant ecosystem damage and leaching of nitrate (NO3 −) to surface waters. Present-day N deposition, however, is often a poor predictor of NO3 − leaching, and the pathway of the ecosystem transition from N-limited to N-saturated remains incompletely understood. The dynamics of N cycling are intimately linked to the associated carbon (C) and sulphur (S) cycles. We hypothesize that N saturation is associated with shifts in the microbial community, manifest by a decrease in the fungi-to-bacteria ratio and a transition from N to C limitation. Three mechanisms could lead to lower amount of bioavailable dissolved organic C (DOC) for the microbial community and to C limitation of N-rich systems: (1) Increased abundance of N for plant uptake, causing lower C allocation to plant roots; (2) chemical suppression of DOC solubility by soil acidification; and (3) enhanced mineralisation of DOC due to increased abundance of electron acceptors in the form of TeX and NO3 − in anoxic soil micro-sites. Here we consider each of these mechanisms, the extent to which their hypothesised impacts are consistent with observations from intensively-monitored sites, and the potential to improve biogeochemical models by incorporating mechanistic links to the C and S cycles.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-013-9892-7
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Emmett
ISSN: 0168-2563
Additional Keywords: nitrogen, carbon, sulphur, acidification, forest soil, modelling
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 30 Jan 2015 12:34 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/509337

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