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Soil carbon sequestration in prairie grasslands increased by chronic nitrogen addition

Fornara, D. A. and Tilman, D. (2012) Soil carbon sequestration in prairie grasslands increased by chronic nitrogen addition. Ecology, Prepri . [Journal article]

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URL: http://www.esajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1890/12-0292.1

DOI: doi/pdf/10.1890/12-0292.1

Abstract

Human-induced increases in nitrogen (N) deposition are common across many terrestrial ecosystems worldwide. Greater N availability not only reduces biological diversity but also affects the biogeochemical coupling of carbon (C) and N cycles in soil ecosystems. Soils are the largest active terrestrial C pool, and N deposition effects on soil C sequestration or release could have global importance. Here we show that 27-years of chronic N additions to prairie grasslands increased C sequestration in mineral soils and that a potential mechanism responsible for this C accrual was an N-induced increase in root mass. Greater soil C sequestration followed a dramatic shift in plant community composition from native species-rich C4-grasslands to naturalized species-poor C3-grasslands, which despite lower soil C gains per unit of N added, still acted as soil C sinks. Since both high plant diversity and elevated N deposition may increase soil C sequestration, but N deposition also decreases plant diversity, more research is needed to address the long-term implications for soil C storage of these two factors. Finally, because exotic C3 grasses often come to dominate N-enriched grasslands, it is important to determine if such N-dependent soil C sequestration occurs across C3-grasslands in other regions worldwide.

Item Type:Journal article
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Life and Health Sciences > School of Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
Research Institutes and Groups:Environmental Sciences Research Institute > Terrestrial Ecology
Environmental Sciences Research Institute
ID Code:22604
Deposited By: Dr Dario Fornara
Deposited On:19 Jun 2012 08:24
Last Modified:18 Dec 2012 11:44

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