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Forests 2018, 9(9), 544; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9090544

Contrasting Responses of Soil Respiration Components in Response to Five-Year Nitrogen Addition in a Pinus tabulaeformis Forest in Northern China

Research Center of Forest Management Engineering of State Forestry and Grassland Administration, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
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Received: 8 July 2018 / Revised: 24 August 2018 / Accepted: 31 August 2018 / Published: 4 September 2018
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Abstract

Increasing atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition has profound effects on carbon (C) cycling in forest ecosystems. As an important part of belowground C dynamics, soil respiration is potentially affected by changing N availability. However, the responses of total soil respiration (RST) and its three components, soil respiration derived from plant roots (RSR), root-free soil (RSS) and the litter layer (RSL), to such N enrichment remains poorly understood. To assess the effects of N enrichment on soil respiration components, three levels of N addition, namely low (LN, 50 kg N ha−1 year−1), medium (MN, 100 kg N ha−1 year−1) and high (HN, 150 kg N ha−1 year−1), were conducted over five growing seasons from 2011 to 2015 in a temperate Chinese pine (Pinus tabulaeformis) forest in northern China. A control plot without N addition (CK) was also established. The five-year mean annual rate of RST was 2.18 ± 0.43 μmol m−2 s−1, and the contributions of RSR, RSS and RSL were 8.8 ± 3.1%, 82.2 ± 4.5% and 9.0 ± 5.5%, respectively. Compared with CK, RST was significantly increased by 16.5% in the HN plots, but not in the LN or MN treatments. RSS was significantly decreased by 18.1%, 26.6% and 18.4% in the LN, MN and HN plots, respectively, due to the reduction of both microbial biomass carbon (MBC) and enzyme activity. In contrast, RSR was increased by more than twice under the MN treatment, which promoted root growth and activity (higher fine root biomass and N concentration). A significant elevation in RSL was only detected in the HN plots, where the increased litter input enhanced litter decomposition and hence RSL. Our findings clearly demonstrated that N addition of different intensities had different effects on soil components. In particular, the above- and belowground components of heterotrophic respiration, RSL and RSR, showed contrasting responses to high level addition of N. Thus, we highlight that the response of soil respiration components to N addition should be examined individually. Our results may contribute to a better understanding of soil respiration dynamics under future N scenarios, and have important implications in forest management. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil respiration; nitrogen addition; Pinus tabulaeformis; microbial biomass carbon; root respiration; root trenching; soil enzyme activity soil respiration; nitrogen addition; Pinus tabulaeformis; microbial biomass carbon; root respiration; root trenching; soil enzyme activity
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Zhao, B.; Geng, Y.; Cao, J.; Yang, L.; Zhao, X. Contrasting Responses of Soil Respiration Components in Response to Five-Year Nitrogen Addition in a Pinus tabulaeformis Forest in Northern China. Forests 2018, 9, 544.

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