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Water 2017, 9(3), 208; doi:10.3390/w9030208

Experimental Manipulation of Precipitation Affects Soil Nitrogen Availability in Semiarid Mongolian Pine (Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica) Plantation

1
Institute of Eco-Environmental Sciences, Liaoning Shihua University, Fushun 113001, Liaoning, China
2
Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016, Liaoning, China
3
Department of Medical Administration, the General Hospital of Shenyang Military Area, Shenyang 110001, Liaoning, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Timothy R. Green and Maurizio Barbieri
Received: 28 October 2016 / Revised: 22 February 2017 / Accepted: 9 March 2017 / Published: 12 March 2017
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Abstract

Expected changes in precipitation over large regions of the world under global climate change will have profound effects on terrestrial ecosystems in arid and semiarid regions. To explore how changes in the amount of precipitation in the growing season would affect soil nitrogen (N) availability in a semiarid ecosystem, we established rainout shelters and irrigation systems by simulating 30% reduced (DRY) and 30% increased precipitation (WET) relative to natural precipitation (Control) to measure some key soil process properties for two growing seasons in a nutrient-poor Mongolian pine (P. sylvestris var. mongolica) plantation. Both WET and DRY treatments significantly affected monthly soil inorganic nitrogen concentrations, which showed a higher inorganic N under DRY than Control in each month and lower in WET than Control. Monthly soil microbial biomass N content was reduced by DRY and raised by WET treatments. The results indicated the asynchrony of the availability of soil moisture and soil nutrients in Mongolian pine plantations at the Horqin Sandy Lands in Northeast China. Water limited plant growth in Mongolian pine plantations when precipitation decreased, and nitrogen limitation became increasingly important when precipitation increased. Accumulation of N in microbial biomass is an important mechanism for N cycling in this ecosystem. To effectively manage Mongolian pine plantations, it is advised that evapotranspiration is minimized when precipitation decreases and that there is an increase in soil N availability by protecting litterfall when precipitation increases. View Full-Text
Keywords: precipitation amount; semiarid ecosystem; precipitation manipulation; rainout shelter; soil NH4+; soil NO3; microbial biomass N; climate change precipitation amount; semiarid ecosystem; precipitation manipulation; rainout shelter; soil NH4+; soil NO3; microbial biomass N; climate change
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Fan, Z.; Tu, Z.; Li, F.; Qin, Y.; Deng, D.; Zeng, D.; Sun, X.; Zhao, Q.; Hu, Y. Experimental Manipulation of Precipitation Affects Soil Nitrogen Availability in Semiarid Mongolian Pine (Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica) Plantation. Water 2017, 9, 208.

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