Investigation of in situ soil nitrogen mineralization in a Picea-Abies forest in Tibet Plateau: effects of increased nitrogen input

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Ge Wang
Lin Han
Xinying Tang
Yu Yang


The main objective of this study was to quantify the dynamics of ammonium (NH4+) and nitrate (NO3-) in the humus (0-7cm) and the uppermost mineral layer (0-15cm) of a forest soil. The soil was treated annually from 2012 to 2013 with one single dose of nitrogen (0, 15, 30kg N ha-1yr-1 applied as (NH4)2SO4, NH4Cl, KNO3). Net N mineralization, including net ammonification and net nitrification was determined in four in situ incubation periods over 2 years in a Picea-Abies forest stand at the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Southwest China. Measurements were done using soil cores (7cm or 15cm deep) with a resin bag filled with combined anion and cation exchange resins placed at the base to collect the N leaching from the soil. The accumulation rate of N was corrected for both deposition and fertilizer N inputs. In all treatments, both the content and accumulation of the mineral N were dominated by NH4+ which accounts for about 76-89% of the net mineralization. The accumulation rate of N decreased to 64-83% in KNO3 treatments. The net N mineralization rate increased with nitrogen input, especially in NH4+-N treatments (p<0.05). However, this promoting role decreased over time. At the highest (NH4)2SO4 additions, the net ammonification and net mineralization rate increased notably in the humus (0-7cm) rather than in the uppermost mineral layer (0-15 cm). Previous studies that reported on soil net mineralization from forests under different environmental conditions were compiled and assessed for the effects of atmospheric N deposition and environmental factors, annual precipitation, and annual temperature on annual fluxes of net nitrogen mineralization in forest soils, worldwide. The results show that an increase in atmospheric N deposition significantly enhances the soil net nitrogen mineralization rate. Variation in atmospheric N deposition accounts for 48% of the variation in the rate of soil net nitrogen mineralization across the forests.


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