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Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Interactive effects of soil temperature and moisture on soil N mineralization in a Stipa krylovii grassland in Inner Mongolia, China

Abstract

Determining soil N mineralization response to soil temperature and moisture changes is challenging in the field due to complicated effects from other factors. In the laboratory, N mineralization is highly dependent on temperature, moisture and sample size. In this study, a laboratory incubation experiment was carefully designed and conducted under controlled conditions to examine the effects of soil temperature and moisture on soil N mineralization using soil samples obtained from the Stipa krylovii grassland in Inner Mongolia, China. Five temperature (i.e. 9°C, 14°C, 22°C, 30°C and 40°C) and five moisture levels (i.e. 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 100% WHC, where WHC is the soil water holding capacity) were included in a full-factorial design. During the 71-day incubation period, microbial biomass carbon (MBC), ammonium nitrogen (NH4+-N) and nitrate nitrogen (NO3--N) were measured approximately every 18 days; soil basal respiration for qCO2 index was measured once every 2 days (once a week near the end of the incubation period). The results showed that the mineral N production and net N mineralization rates were positively correlated with temperature; the strongest correlation was observed for temperatures between 30°C and 40°C. The relationships between moisture levels and both the mineral N production and net N mineralization rates were quadratic. The interaction between soil temperature and moisture was significant on N mineralization, i.e. increasing temperatures (moisture) enhanced the sensitivity of N mineralization to moisture (temperature). Our results also showed a positive correlation between the net nitrification rate and temperature, while the correlation between the NH4+-N content and temperature was insignificant. The net nitrification rate was negatively correlated with high NH4+-N contents at 80%–100% WHC, suggesting an active denitrification in moist conditions. Moreover, qCO2 index was positively correlated with temperature, especially at 80% WHC. With a low net nitrification rate and high soil basal respiration rate, it was likely that the denitrification concealed the microbial gross mineralization activity; therefore, active soil N mineralization occurred in 60%–80% WHC conditions.

First Page

571

Last Page

580

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