High rates of biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) are commonly reported for tropical forests, but most studies have been conducted in regions that receive substantial inputs of molybdenum (Mo) from atmospheric dust and sea‐salt aerosols. Even in these regions, the low availability of Mo can constrain free‐living BNF catalyzed by heterotrophic bacteria and archaea. We hypothesized that in regions where atmospheric inputs of Mo are low and soils are highly weathered, such as the southeastern Amazon, Mo would constrain BNF. We also hypothesized that the high soil acidity, characteristic of the Amazon Basin, would further constrain Mo availability and therefore soil BNF. We conducted two field experiments across the wet and dry seasons, adding Mo, phosphorus (P), and lime alone and in combination to the forest floor in the southeastern Amazon. We sampled soils and litter immediately, and then weeks and months after the applications, and measured Mo and P availability through resin extractions and BNF with the acetylene reduction assay. The experimental additions of Mo and P increased their availability and the lime increased soil pH. While the combination of Mo and P increased BNF at some time points, BNF rates did not increase strongly or consistently across the study as a whole, suggesting that Mo, P, and soil pH are not the dominant controls over BNF. In a separate short‐term laboratory experiment, BNF did not respond strongly to Mo and P even when labile carbon was added. We postulate that high nitrogen (N) availability in this area of the Amazon, as indicated by the stoichiometry of soils and vegetation and the high nitrate soil stocks, likely suppresses BNF at this site. These patterns may also extend across highly weathered soils with high N availability in other topographically stable regions of the tropics.more » « less
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
Soil ammonia (NH3) emissions are seldom included in ecosystem nutrient budgets; however, they may represent substantial pathways for ecosystem nitrogen (N) loss, especially in arid regions where hydrologic N losses are comparatively small. To characterize how multiple factors affect soil NH3 emissions, we measured NH3 losses from 6 dryland sites along a gradient in soil pH, atmospheric N deposition, and rainfall. We also enriched soils with ammonium (NH4+), to determine whether N availability would limit emissions, and measured NH3 emissions with passive samplers in soil chambers following experimental wetting. Because the volatilization of NH3 is sensitive to pH, we hypothesized that NH3 emissions would be higher in more alkaline soils and that they would increase with increasing NH4+ availability. Consistent with this hypothesis, average soil NH3 emissions were positively correlated with average site pH (R2 = 0.88, P = 0.004), ranging between 0.77 ± 0.81 µg N-NH3 m−2 h−1 at the least arid and most acidic site and 24.2 ± 16.0 µg N-NH3 m−2 h−1 at the most arid and alkaline site. Wetting soils while simultaneously adding NH4+ increased NH3 emissions from alkaline and moderately acidic soils (F1,35 = 14.7, P < 0.001), suggesting that high N availability can stimulate NH3 emissions even when pH is less than optimal for NH3 volatilization. Thus, both pH and N availability act as proximate controls over NH3 emissions suggesting that these N losses may limit how much N accumulates in arid ecosystems.more » « less
In this study, we investigate the biogeochemical consequences of fire in seasonally flooded Amazon forests, where recent declines in forest cover have been linked to increases in fire frequency and severity. Previous studies have hypothesized that a quasi‐permanent state‐shift transition from typical Amazon forests to open savannas can occur when fire results in further depletion of already impoverished soil nutrient pools. Asymbiotic N2fixation (ANF) is an essential pathway for fire‐affected forests to acquire nitrogen (N) after disturbance, but ANF response to fire has yet to be quantified in Amazonia. Here, we quantify ANF through field sampling and laboratory incubations using15N‐labeled dinitrogen (15N2) and measurement of 14 biogeochemical parameters in surface (0–10 cm) and subsurface (10–30 cm) soils. Our data represent burned and unburned replicated sampling sites, across five stands, spanning a gradient from infrequent (once in 13 years) to frequent (five times in 13 years) fire occurrences. ANF did not vary with fire frequency but was, on average, 24% lower in burned than in unburned surface soils across all stands. Burned and unburned subsurface soils had similar ANF rates. About 58% of ANF variance was explained by the joint effect of carbon (C):N ratio and available phosphorus (P) in burned and unburned soils. ANF increased linearly with C:N and P availability in unburned soils, but a highly non‐linear relationship was observed in burned soils. Our findings show that fire alters soil C‐to‐nutrient stoichiometry, which resulted in lower N inputs via ANF into burned relative to unburned tropical forest soils.
Abstract Tropical regions hold one third of the world’s soil organic carbon, but few experiments have warmed tropical soils in situ. The vulnerability of these soils to climate change-induced losses is uncertain with many hypothesizing these soils would be less sensitive to climate change because already-high temperatures in tropical systems might limit microbial sensitivity or due to increased mineral protection of organic carbon in highly weathered tropical soils. Here we present the results of a deep soil (0–100 cm) warming experiment in a tropical Andisol. Andisols can store large, persistent pools of soil carbon that are protected from decomposition by poorly and non-crystalline minerals (PNCM). In 20 cm depth intervals, we measured key soil properties including carbon, nitrogen, pH, PNCM, bacterial and fungal richness along with temperature, moisture, and CO 2 production. Over a year of soil warming, CO 2 production significantly increased by 50–300% per degree of warming, but only in the top 40 cm of the soil profile in contrast to the results of other deep soil warming experiments. Multimodal analysis supported our hypothesis that high concentrations of PNCM was the primary driver of the lack of CO 2 response, followed by high relative soil moisture and low bacterial richness, which may be a proxy for organic carbon availability. The lack of elevated CO 2 production in response to warming suggests a limited positive feedback to climate change in Andisols driven by their strong mineral protection of organic matter. Therefore, Andisols should be considered high priority restoration or protection areas when considering the management of soil carbon stocks as part of climate action.more » « less
Molybdenum (Mo) is a key cofactor in enzymes used for nitrogen (N) fixation and nitrate reduction, and the low availability of Mo can constrain N inputs, affecting ecosystem productivity. Natural atmospheric Mo aerosolization and deposition from sources such as desert dust, sea‐salt spray, and volcanoes can affect ecosystem function across long timescales, but anthropogenic activities such as combustion, motor vehicles, and agricultural dust have accelerated the natural Mo cycle. Here we combined a synthesis of global atmospheric concentration observations and modeling to identify and estimate anthropogenic sources of atmospheric Mo. To project the impact of atmospheric Mo on terrestrial ecosystems, we synthesized soil Mo data and estimated the global distribution of soil Mo using two approaches to calculate turnover times. We estimated global emissions of atmospheric Mo in aerosols (<10 μm in diameter) to be 23 Gg Mo yr−1, with 40%–75% from anthropogenic sources. We approximated that for the top meter of soil, Mo turnover times range between 1,000 and 1,000,000 years. In some industrialized regions, anthropogenic inputs have enhanced Mo deposition 100‐fold, lowering the soil Mo turnover time considerably. Our synthesis of global observational data, modeling, and a mass balance comparison with riverine Mo exports suggest that anthropogenic activity has greatly accelerated the Mo cycle, with potential to influence N‐limited ecosystems.
Warming‐induced changes in precipitation regimes, coupled with anthropogenically enhanced nitrogen (N) deposition, are likely to increase the prevalence, duration, and magnitude of soil respiration pulses following wetting via interactions among temperature and carbon (C) and N availability. Quantifying the importance of these interactive controls on soil respiration is a key challenge as pulses can be large terrestrial sources of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) over comparatively short timescales. Using an automated sensor system, we measured soil CO2flux dynamics in the Colorado Desert—a system characterized by pronounced transitions from dry‐to‐wet soil conditions—through a multi‐year series of experimental wetting campaigns. Experimental manipulations included combinations of C and N additions across a range of ambient temperatures and across five sites varying in atmospheric N deposition. We found soil CO2pulses following wetting were highly predictable from peak instantaneous CO2flux measurements. CO2pulses consistently increased with temperature, and temperature at time of wetting positively correlated to CO2pulse magnitude. Experimentally adding N along the N deposition gradient generated contrasting pulse responses: adding N increased CO2pulses in low N deposition sites, whereas adding N decreased CO2pulses in high N deposition sites. At a low N deposition site, simultaneous additions of C and N during wetting led to the highest observed soil CO2fluxes reported globally at 299.5 μmol CO2 m−2 s−1. Our results suggest that soils have the capacity to emit high amounts of CO2within small timeframes following infrequent wetting, and pulse sizes reflect a non‐linear combination of soil resource and temperature interactions. Importantly, the largest soil CO2emissions occurred when multiple resources were amended simultaneously in historically resource‐limited desert soils, pointing to regions experiencing simultaneous effects of desertification and urbanization as key locations in future global C balance.