The effect of experimental warming and precipitation change on proteolytic enzyme activity: Positive feedbacks to nitrogen availability are not universal

Edward R. Brzostek, John M. Blair, Jeffrey S. Dukes, Serita D. Frey, Sarah E. Hobbie, Jerry M. Melillo, Robert J. Mitchell, Elise Pendall, Peter B. Reich, Gaius R. Shaver, Artur Stefanski, Mark G. Tjoelker, Adrien C. Finzi

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57 Scopus citations

Abstract

Nitrogen regulates the Earth's climate system by constraining the terrestrial sink for atmospheric CO 2. Proteolytic enzymes are a principal driver of the within-system cycle of soil nitrogen, yet there is little to no understanding of their response to climate change. Here, we use a single methodology to investigate potential proteolytic enzyme activity in soils from 16 global change experiments. We show that regardless of geographical location or experimental manipulation (i.e., temperature, precipitation, or both), all sites plotted along a single line relating the response ratio of potential proteolytic activity to soil moisture deficit, the difference between precipitation and evapotranspiration. In particular, warming and reductions in precipitation stimulated potential proteolytic activity in mesic sites - temperate and boreal forests, arctic tundra - whereas these manipulations suppressed potential activity in dry grasslands. This study provides a foundation for a simple representation of the impacts of climate change on a central component of the nitrogen cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2617-2625
Number of pages9
JournalGlobal change biology
Volume18
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012

Keywords

  • Global change
  • Organic nitrogen
  • Proteolytic enzymes
  • Soil nitrogen cycle
  • Soil organic-matter decomposition

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    Brzostek, E. R., Blair, J. M., Dukes, J. S., Frey, S. D., Hobbie, S. E., Melillo, J. M., Mitchell, R. J., Pendall, E., Reich, P. B., Shaver, G. R., Stefanski, A., Tjoelker, M. G., & Finzi, A. C. (2012). The effect of experimental warming and precipitation change on proteolytic enzyme activity: Positive feedbacks to nitrogen availability are not universal. Global change biology, 18(8), 2617-2625. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2012.02685.x