The role of soil organic matter quality and physical environment for nitrogen mineralization at the forest-tundra ecotone in Fennoscandia

Sofie Sjögersten, Philip A Wookey

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    31 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Nitrogen availability is considered limiting for plant growth at the forest-tundra ecotone, and it might modulate ecosystem response to climate warming. The aim of this research was to compare the impact of climate, vegetation cover, and soil organic matter (SOM) chemistry on N mineralization rates at the forest-tundra ecotone. We therefore estimated N mineralization in mountain birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh. ssp. czerepanovii) forest and tundra soil across a broad-scale latitudinal gradient in Fennoscandia, which incorporated 4 research sites (Dovrefjell, Vassijaure, Abisko, and Joatka). During the summer period, ammonium was the dominant form of mineralized nitrogen in forest soils, while nitrate mineralization rates were higher at tundra sites during the winter. A negative regression relationship between an index of climatic continentality and N mineralization was found. Further, summer NH4+ mineralization rates increased with total N content in soils, while NO3- mineralization seemed to be associated with C availability. Our study showed markedly contrasting inorganic N release in forest and tundra soil, and that, although mineralization rates differed between the summer and winter period, the winter activity was relatively high and should not be ignored. We conclude that a shift in the forest-tundra ecotone in response to climate wan-ning will have stronger effects on nitrogen availability at these sites than the direct effects of warming.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)118-126
    Number of pages9
    JournalArctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research
    Volume37
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005

    Keywords

    • DWARF SHRUB HEATH
    • MOUNTAIN BIRCH
    • LITTER DECOMPOSITION
    • CO2 EFFLUX
    • SWEDISH LAPLAND
    • CLIMATE-CHANGE
    • ARCTIC SOILS
    • TEMPERATURE
    • RESPIRATION
    • RESPONSES

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