Cedar Creek Natural History Area: Literature   Up   Home


Citation. Dijkstra, F.; West, J.; Hobbie, S.; Reich, P.B. 2007. Dissolved inorganic and organic N leaching from a grassland field experiment: interactive effects of plant species richness, atmospheric (CO2) and N fertilization. Ecology 88:490-500.

Abstract. In nitrogen (N)-limited systems, the potential to sequester carbon depends on the balance between N inputs and losses as well as on how efficiently N is used, yet little is known about responses of these processes to changes in plant species richness, atmospheric CO2 concentration ([CO2]), and N deposition. We examined how plant species richness (1 or 16 species), elevated [CO2] (ambient or 560 ppm), and inorganic N addition (0 or 4 g·m−2·yr−1) affected ecosystem N losses, specifically leaching of dissolved inorganic N (DIN) and organic N (DON) in a grassland field experiment in Minnesota, USA. We observed greater DIN leaching below 60 cm soil depth in the monoculture plots (on average 1.8 and 3.1 g N·m−2·yr−1 for ambient N and N-fertilized plots respectively) than in the 16-species plots (0.2 g N·m−2·yr−1 for both ambient N and N-fertilized plots), particularly when inorganic N was added. Most likely, loss of complementary resource use and reduced biological N demand in the monoculture plots caused the increase in DIN leaching relative to the high-diversity plots. Elevated [CO2] reduced DIN concentrations under conditions when DIN concentrations were high (i.e., in N-fertilized and monoculture plots). Contrary to the results for DIN, DON leaching was greater in the 16-species plots than in the monoculture plots (on average 0.4 g N·m−2·yr−1 in 16-species
plots and 0.2 g N·m−2·yr−1 in monoculture plots). In fact, DON dominated N leaching in the 16-species plots (64% of total N leaching as DON), suggesting that, even with high biological demand for N, substantial amounts of N can be lost as DON. We found no significant main effects of elevated [CO2] on DIN or DON leaching; however, elevated [CO2] reduced the positive effect of inorganic N addition on DON leaching, especially during the second year of observation. Our results suggest that plant species richness, elevated [CO2], and N deposition alter DIN loss primarily through changes in biological
N demand. DON losses can be as large as DIN loss but are more sensitive to organic matter production and turnover.

Key words: dissolved inorganic nitrogen, dissolved organic nitrogen, drainage, elevated CO2, grassland, leaching, lysimeter, nitrogen deposition, nitrogen loss, plant species richness.


For reprints or technical issues, please correspond with the author of the paper. For comments on the format or contents of the web site, please contact webmaster@cedarcreek.umn.edu