skip to main content


Title: Nitrification and denitrification in the Community Land Model compared to observations at Hubbard Brook Forest
Microbial biomass is known to decrease with soil drying and to increase after rewetting due to physiological assimilation and substrate limitation under fluctuating moisture conditions, but how the effects of moisture changes vary between dry and wet environments is unclear. Here, we conducted a meta‐analysis to assess the effects of elevated and reduced soil moisture on microbial biomass carbon (MBC) and nitrogen (MBN) across a broad range of forest sites between dry and wet regions. We found that the influence of both elevated and reduced soil moisture on MBC and MBN concentrations in forest soils was greater in dry than in wet regions. The influence of altered soil moisture on MBC and MBN concentrations increased significantly with the manipulation intensity but decreased with the length of experimental period, with a dramatic increase observed under a very short‐term precipitation pulse. Moisture effect did not differ between coarse‐ and fine‐textured soils. Precipitation intensity, experimental duration, and site standardized precipitation index (dry or wet climate) were more important than edaphic factors (i.e., initial water content, bulk density, clay content) in determining microbial biomass in response to altered moisture in forest soils. Different responses of microbial biomass in forest soils between dry and wet regions should be incorporated into models to evaluate how changes in the amount, timing and intensity of precipitation affect soil biogeochemical processes.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1637685 1655818 2020443
NSF-PAR ID:
10316083
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Ecological Applications
ISSN:
1051-0761
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Microbial biomass is known to decrease with soil drying and to increase after rewetting due to physiological assimilation and substrate limitation under fluctuating moisture conditions, but how the effects of changing moisture conditions vary between dry and wet environments is unclear. Here, we conducted a meta‐analysis to assess the effects of elevated and reduced soil moisture on microbial biomass C (MBC) and microbial biomass N (MBN) across a broad range of forest sites between dry and wet regions. We found that the influence of both elevated and reduced soil moisture on MBC and MBN concentrations in forest soils was greater in dry than in wet regions. The influence of altered soil moisture on MBC and MBN concentrations increased significantly with the manipulation intensity but decreased with the length of experimental period, with a dramatic increase observed under a very short‐term precipitation pulse. Moisture effect did not differ between coarse‐textured and fine‐textured soils. Precipitation intensity, experimental duration, and site standardized precipitation index (dry or wet climate) were more important than edaphic factors (i.e., initial water content, bulk density, and clay content) in determining microbial biomass in response to altered moisture in forest soils. Different responses of microbial biomass in forest soils between dry and wet regions should be incorporated into models to evaluate how changes in the amount, timing, and intensity of precipitation affect soil biogeochemical processes.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Climate variability and periodic droughts have complex effects on carbon (C) fluxes, with uncertain implications for ecosystem C balance under a changing climate. Responses to climate change can be modulated by persistent effects of climate history on plant communities, soil microbial activity, and nutrient cycling (i.e., legacies). To assess how legacies of past precipitation regimes influence tallgrass prairie C cycling under new precipitation regimes, we modified a long‐term irrigation experiment that simulated a wetter climate for >25 years. We reversed irrigated and control (ambient precipitation) treatments in some plots and imposed an experimental drought in plots with a history of irrigation or ambient precipitation to assess how climate legacies affect aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP), soil respiration, and selected soil C pools. Legacy effects of elevated precipitation (irrigation) included higher C fluxes and altered labile soil C pools, and in some cases altered sensitivity to new climate treatments. Indeed, decades of irrigation reduced the sensitivity of both ANPP and soil respiration to drought compared with controls. Positive legacy effects of irrigation on ANPP persisted for at least 3 years following treatment reversal, were apparent in both wet and dry years, and were associated with altered plant functional composition. In contrast, legacy effects on soil respiration were comparatively short‐lived and did not manifest under natural or experimentally‐imposed “wet years,” suggesting that legacy effects on CO2efflux are contingent on current conditions. Although total soil C remained similar across treatments, long‐term irrigation increased labile soil C and the sensitivity of microbial biomass C to drought. Importantly, the magnitude of legacy effects for all response variables varied with topography, suggesting that landscape can modulate the strength and direction of climate legacies. Our results demonstrate the role of climate history as an important determinant of terrestrial C cycling responses to future climate changes.

     
    more » « less
  3. ABSTRACT Tundra ecosystems are typically carbon (C) rich but nitrogen (N) limited. Since biological N 2 fixation is the major source of biologically available N, the soil N 2 -fixing (i.e., diazotrophic) community serves as an essential N supplier to the tundra ecosystem. Recent climate warming has induced deeper permafrost thaw and adversely affected C sequestration, which is modulated by N availability. Therefore, it is crucial to examine the responses of diazotrophic communities to warming across the depths of tundra soils. Herein, we carried out one of the deepest sequencing efforts of nitrogenase gene ( nifH ) to investigate how 5 years of experimental winter warming affects Alaskan soil diazotrophic community composition and abundance spanning both the organic and mineral layers. Although soil depth had a stronger influence on diazotrophic community composition than warming, warming significantly ( P <  0.05) enhanced diazotrophic abundance by 86.3% and aboveground plant biomass by 25.2%. Diazotrophic composition in the middle and lower organic layers, detected by nifH sequencing and a microarray-based tool (GeoChip), was markedly altered, with an increase of α-diversity. Changes in diazotrophic abundance and composition significantly correlated with soil moisture, soil thaw duration, and plant biomass, as shown by structural equation modeling analyses. Therefore, more abundant diazotrophic communities induced by warming may potentially serve as an important mechanism for supplementing biologically available N in this tundra ecosystem. IMPORTANCE With the likelihood that changes in global climate will adversely affect the soil C reservoir in the northern circumpolar permafrost zone, an understanding of the potential role of diazotrophic communities in enhancing biological N 2 fixation, which constrains both plant production and microbial decomposition in tundra soils, is important in elucidating the responses of soil microbial communities to global climate change. A recent study showed that the composition of the diazotrophic community in a tundra soil exhibited no change under a short-term (1.5-year) winter warming experiment. However, it remains crucial to examine whether the lack of diazotrophic community responses to warming is persistent over a longer time period as a possibly important mechanism in stabilizing tundra soil C. Through a detailed characterization of the effects of winter warming on diazotrophic communities, we showed that a long-term (5-year) winter warming substantially enhanced diazotrophic abundance and altered community composition, though soil depth had a stronger influence on diazotrophic community composition than warming. These changes were best explained by changes in soil moisture, soil thaw duration, and plant biomass. These results provide crucial insights into the potential factors that may impact future C and N availability in tundra regions. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    In dryland soils, spatiotemporal variation in surface soils (0–10 cm) plays an important role in the function of the “critical zone” that extends from canopy to groundwater. Understanding connections between soil microbes and biogeochemical cycling in surface soils requires repeated multivariate measurements of nutrients, microbial abundance, and microbial function. We examined these processes in resource islands and interspaces over a two‐month period at a Chihuahuan Desert bajada shrubland site. We collected soil inProsopis glandulosa(honey mesquite),Larrea tridentata(creosote bush), and unvegetated (interspace) areas to measure soil nutrient concentrations, microbial biomass, and potential soil enzyme activity. We monitored the dynamics of these belowground processes as soil conditions dried and then rewetted due to rainfall. Most measured variables, including inorganic nutrients, microbial biomass, and soil enzyme activities, were greater under shrubs during both wet and dry periods, with the highest magnitudes under mesquite followed by creosote bush and then interspace. One exception was nitrate, which was highly variable and did not show resource island patterns. Temporally, rainfall pulses were associated with substantial changes in soil nutrient concentrations, though resource island patterns remained consistent during all phases of the soil moisture pulse. Microbial biomass was more consistent than nutrients, decreasing only when soils were driest. Potential enzyme activities were even more consistent and did not decline in dry periods, potentially helping to stimulate observed pulses in CO2efflux following rain events observed at a co‐located eddy flux tower. These results indicate a critical zone with organic matter cycling patterns consistently elevated in shrub resource islands (which varied by shrub species), high decomposition potential that limits soil organic matter accumulation across the landscape, and nitrate fluxes that are decoupled from the organic matter pathways.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Soil CO2concentrations and emissions from tropical forests are modulated seasonally by precipitation. However, subseasonal responses to meteorological events (e.g., storms, drought) are less well known. Here, we present the effects of meteorological variability on short‐term (hours to months) dynamics of soil CO2concentrations and emissions in a Neotropical wet forest. We continuously monitored soil temperature, moisture, and CO2for a three‐year period (2015–2017), encompassing normal conditions, floods, a dry El Niño period, and a hurricane. We used a coupled model (Hydrus‐1D) for soil water propagation, heat transfer, and diffusive gas transport to explain observed soil moisture, soil temperature, and soil CO2concentration responses to meteorology, and we estimated soil CO2efflux with a gradient‐flux model. Then, we predicted changes in soil CO2concentrations and emissions under different warming climate change scenarios. Observed short‐term (hourly to daily) soil CO2concentration responded more to precipitation than to other meteorological variables (including lower pressure during the hurricane). Observed soil CO2failed to exhibit diel patterns (associated with diel temperature fluctuations in drier climates), except during the drier El Niño period. Climate change scenarios showed enhanced soil CO2due to warmer conditions, while precipitation played a critical role in moderating the balance between concentrations and emissions. The scenario with increased precipitation (based on a regional model projection) led to increases of +11% in soil CO2concentrations and +4% in soil CO2emissions. The scenario with decreased precipitation (based on global circulation model projections) resulted in increases of +4% in soil CO2concentrations and +18% in soil CO2emissions, and presented more prominent hot moments in soil CO2outgassing. These findings suggest that soil CO2will increase under warmer climate in tropical wet forests, and precipitation patterns will define the intensity of CO2outgassing hot moments.

     
    more » « less