Nitrogen and phosphorus enrichment effects on CO2 and methane fluxes from an upland ecosystem

Stiles, William A.V.; Rowe, Edwin C.; Dennis, Peter. 2018 Nitrogen and phosphorus enrichment effects on CO2 and methane fluxes from an upland ecosystem. Science of the Total Environment, 618. 1199-1209.

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Reactive nitrogen (N) deposition can affect many ecosystem processes, particularly in oligotrophic habitats, and is expected to affect soil C storage potential through increases in microbial decomposition rate as a consequence of greater N availability. Increased N availability may also result in changes in the principal limitations on ecosystem productivity. Phosphorus (P) limitation may constrain productivity in instances of high N deposition, yet ecosystem responses to P availability are poorly understood. This study investigated CO2 and CH4 flux responses to N and P enrichment using both short- (1 year) and long-term (16 year) nutrient addition experiments. We hypothesised that the addition of either N or P will increase CO2 and CH4 fluxes, since both plant production and microbial activity are likely to increase with alleviation from nutrient limitation. This study demonstrated the modification of C fluxes from N and P enrichment, with differing results subject to the duration of nutrient addition. On average, relative to control, the addition of N alone inhibited CO2 flux in the short-term (− 9%) but considerably increased CO2 emissions in the long-term (+ 35%), reduced CH4 uptake in the short term (− 90%) and reduced CH4 emission in the long term (− 94%). Phosphorus addition increased CO2 and CH4 emission in the short term (+ 20% and + 184% respectively), with diminishing effect into the long term, suggesting microbial communities at these sites are P limited. Whilst a full C exchange budget was not examined in the experiment, the potential for soil C storage loss with long-term nutrient enrichment is demonstrated and indicates that P addition, where P is a limiting factor, may have an adverse influence on upland soil C content.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Keywords: nitrogen deposition, soil carbon, carbon fluxes, pollution, co-limitation, P limitation
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 05 Feb 2018 11:53 +0 (UTC)

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