Nitrogen deposition and plant species interact to influence soil carbon stabilization

Feike A. Dijkstra, Sarah E Hobbie, Johannes M H Knops, Peter B Reich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

84 Scopus citations

Abstract

Anthropogenic nitrogen (N) deposition effects on soil organic carbon (C) decomposition remain controversial, while the role of plant species composition in mediating effects of N deposition on soil organic C decomposition and long-term soil C sequestration is virtually unknown. Here we provide evidence from a 5-year grassland field experiment in Minnesota that under elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration (560 ppm), plant species determine whether N deposition inhibits the decomposition of soil organic matter via inter-specific variation in root lignin concentration. Plant species producing lignin-rich litter increased stabilization of soil C older than 5 years, but only in combination with elevated N inputs (4 g m-2 year -1). Our results suggest that N deposition will increase soil C sequestration in those ecosystems where vegetation composition and/or elevated atmospheric CO2 cause high litter lignin inputs to soils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1192-1198
Number of pages7
JournalEcology letters
Volume7
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004

Keywords

  • Carbon isotopes
  • Elevated CO
  • Grassland species
  • Humification
  • Lignin
  • Nitrogen isotopes
  • Root litter
  • Soil carbon sequestration
  • Soil organic matter decomposition

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