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Citation. Wedin, D. A.; Tilman, D. 1990. Species effects on nitrogen cycling: a test with perennial grasses. Oecologia 84:433-441. [1207 LTER]
Summary. To test for differing effects of plant species on nitrogen dynamics. we planted monocultures of five perennial grasses (Agropyron repens, Agrostis scabra, Poa pratensis, Schizachyrium scoparium, and Andropogon gerardi) on a series of soils ranging from sand to black soil. In situ net N mineralization was measured in the monocultures for three years. By the third year, initially identical soils under different species had diverged up to 10-fold in annual net mineralization. This divergence corresponded to differences in the tissue N concentrations, belowground lignin concentrations, and belowground biomasses of the species. These results demonstrate the potential for strong feedbacks between the species composition of vegetation and N cycling If individual plant species can affect N mineralization and N availability, then competition for N may lead to positive or negative feedbacks between the processes controlling species composition and ecosystem processes such as N and C cycling. These feedbacks create the potential for alternative stable states for the vegetation-soil system given the same initial abiotic conditions.
Keywords. Nitrogen cycling, Species effects, Grasses, Litter quality, N mineralization