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Open AccessArticle

Climatic, Edaphic and Biotic Controls over Soil δ13C and δ15N in Temperate Grasslands

1
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
2
Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11A, Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China
3
CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
4
Department of Environmental Chemistry, University of Kassel, Nordbahnhofstrasse 1a, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany
5
Institute of International Rivers and Eco-Security, Yunnan University, Kunming 650500, China
6
Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Coastal Ecosystems Research Station of the Yangtze River Estuary, Shanghai Institute of Eco-Chongming, School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, 2005 Songhu Road, Shanghai 200438, China
7
Yanshan Eco-Environmental Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 101408, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2020, 11(4), 433; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11040433
Received: 17 March 2020 / Revised: 6 April 2020 / Accepted: 8 April 2020 / Published: 10 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spatial Heterogeneity of Forest-Steppes)
Soils δ13C and δ15N are now regarded as useful indicators of nitrogen (N) status and dynamics of soil organic carbon (SOC). Numerous studies have explored the effects of various factors on soils δ13C and δ15N in terrestrial ecosystems on different scales, but it remains unclear how co-varying climatic, edaphic and biotic factors independently contribute to the variation in soil δ13C and δ15N in temperate grasslands on a large scale. To answer the above question, a large-scale soil collection was carried out along a vegetation transect across the temperate grasslands of Inner Mongolia. We found that mean annual precipitation (MAP) and mean annual temperature (MAT) do not correlate with soil δ15N along the transect, while soil δ13C linearly decreased with MAP and MAT. Soil δ15N logarithmically increased with concentrations of SOC, total N and total P. By comparison, soil δ13C linearly decreased with SOC, total N and total P. Soil δ15N logarithmically increased with microbial biomass C and microbial biomass N, while soil δ13C linearly decreased with microbial biomass C and microbial biomass N. Plant belowground biomass linearly increased with soil δ15N but decreased with soil δ13C. Soil δ15N decreased with soil δ13C along the transect. Multiple linear regressions showed that biotic and edaphic factors such as microbial biomass C and total N exert more effect on soil δ15N, whereas climatic and edaphic factors such as MAT and total P have more impact on soil δ13C. These findings show that soil C and N cycles in temperate grasslands are, to some extent, decoupled and dominantly controlled by different factors. Further investigations should focus on those ecological processes leading to decoupling of C and N cycles in temperate grassland soils. View Full-Text
Keywords: carbon cycling; natural stable isotope abundance; nitrogen cycling; soil organic matter; temperate grassland carbon cycling; natural stable isotope abundance; nitrogen cycling; soil organic matter; temperate grassland
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Zhao, X.; Xu, X.; Wang, F.; Greenberg, I.; Liu, M.; Che, R.; Zhang, L.; Cui, X. Climatic, Edaphic and Biotic Controls over Soil δ13C and δ15N in Temperate Grasslands. Forests 2020, 11, 433.

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