Nitrogen deposition and climate effects on soil nitrogen availability: influences of habitat type and soil characteristics

Rowe, E.C.; Emmett, B.A. ORCID:; Frogbrook, Z.L.; Robinson, D.A. ORCID:; Hughes, S.. 2012 Nitrogen deposition and climate effects on soil nitrogen availability: influences of habitat type and soil characteristics. Science of the Total Environment, 434. 62-70.

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The amount of plant-available nitrogen (N) in soil is an important indicator of eutrophication of semi-natural habitats, but previous studies have shown contrasting effects of N deposition on mineralisable N in different habitats. The stock of readily mineralisable N (Nrm) was measured in 665 locations across Britain from a range of intensively and extensively managed habitats, allowing N availability to be studied in relation to soil and vegetation type, and also to variation in climate and in reactive N deposition from the atmosphere. Mineralisable N contents were correlated with deposition in extensively managed habitats but not in intensively managed habitats. The following statements apply only to extensively managed habitats. All habitats showed a similar increase in Nrm with N deposition. However, soil characteristics affected the relationship, and soil carbon content in particular was a major control on mineralisation. The Nrm stock increased more with N deposition in organic than in mineral soils. The nitrate proportion of Nrm also increased with N deposition but, conversely, this increase was greater in mineral than in organic soils. The measurements could be used as indicators of eutrophication, e.g. deposition rates of over 20 kg N ha− 1 y− 1 are associated with nitrate proportions of > 41% in a mineral soil (2% carbon), and with Nrm stocks of over 4.8 kg N ha− 1 in an organic soil (55% carbon). Both Nrm and nitrate proportion increased with mean annual temperature of the sampling location, despite consistent incubation temperature, suggesting that increasing temperatures are likely to increase the eutrophying effects of N pollution on semi-natural ecosystems.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 2 - Ecological Processes in the Environment > BD - 2.3 - Identify indicators and traits of ecosystem status ...
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry > BGC Topic 2 - Biogeochemistry and Climate System Processes > BGC - 2.1 - Quantify & model processes that control the emission, fate and bioavailability of pollutants
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Emmett
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Science of the Total Environment. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Science of the Total Environment, 434. 62-70. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.12.027
Additional Keywords: deposition, eutrophication, mineralization, nitrate, nutrient, pollution
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 16 Jan 2012 15:12 +0 (UTC)

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