Soil System Sciences

Monday paper: Effects of belowground litter addition, increased precipitation and clipping on soil carbon and nitrogen mineralization in a temperate steppe

Ma, L., Guo, C., Xin, X., Yuan, S., Wang, R. 2013. Effects of belowground litter addition, increased precipitation and clipping on soil carbon and nitrogen mineralization in a temperate steppe. Biogeosciences 10, 7361-7372. DOI: 10.5194/bg-10-7361-2013


Soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling are sensitive to changes in environmental factors and play critical roles in the responses of terrestrial ecosystems to natural and anthropogenic perturbations. This study was conducted to quantify the effects of belowground particulate litter (BPL) addition, increased precipitation and their interactions on soil C and N mineralization in two adjacent sites where belowground photosynthate allocation was manipulated through vegetation clipping in a temperate steppe of northeastern China from 2010 to 2011. The results show that BPL addition significantly increase soil C mineralization rate (CMR) and net N mineralization rate (NMR). Although increased precipitation-induced enhancement of soil CMR essentially ceased after the first year, stimulation of soil NMR and net nitrification rate continued into the second year. Clipping only marginally decreased soil CMR and NMR during the two years. There were significant synergistic interactions between BPL addition (and increased precipitation) and clipping on soil CMR and NMR, likely to reflect shifts in soil microbial community structure and a decrease in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi biomass due to the reduction of belowground photosynthate allocation. These results highlight the importance of plants in mediating the responses of soil C and N mineralization to potentially increased BPL and precipitation by controlling belowground photosynthate allocation in the temperate steppe.

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Biogeosciences (BG) is an international scientific journal dedicated to the publication and discussion of research articles, short communications and review papers on all aspects of the interactions between the biological, chemical and physical processes in terrestrial or extraterrestrial life with the geosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. The objective of the journal is to cut across the boundaries of established sciences and achieve an interdisciplinary view of these interactions. Experimental, conceptual and modelling approaches are welcome. More at Biogeosciences homepage.

Antonio Jordán is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Seville and coordinator of the MED Soil Research Group. Antonio’s research focusses on rainfall-induced soil erosion processes, the effects of wildfires on soil properties and soil degradation in Mediterranean areas. He is an active members of the Soil System Sciences (SSS) Division of the European Geosciences Union (EGU), which coordinates the scientific programme on soil sciences.