IJG  Vol.4 No.9 , November 2013
Net Nitrogen Mineralization in Natural Ecosystems across the Conterminous US
ABSTRACT

Nitrogen is the primary nutrient limiting ecosystem productivity over most of the US. Although soil nitrogen content is important, knowledge about its spatial extent at the continental scale is limited. The objective of this study was to estimate net nitrogen mineralization for the conterminous US (CONUS) using an empirical modeling approach by scaling up site level measurements. Net nitrogen mineralization and total soil nitrogen data across the CONUS were obtained from three different ecosystems: low elevation forests, high elevation forests, and grasslands. Equations to predict net nitrogen mineralization were developed through stepwise linear regression using total Kjeldahl nitrogen, air temperature, precipitation, and nitrogen deposition as predictor variables for four categories: low elevation high temperature forests (coefficient of determination, R2 = 0.83), low elevation low temperature forests (R2 = 0.74), high elevation forests (R2 = 0.80), and grasslands (R2 = 0.88). A map of net nitrogen mineralization was developed in GIS using these equations and national-scale databases for the CONUS. The result shows that net nitrogen mineralization varies widely across the US. Grasslands were predicted to have the lowest net nitrogen mineralization, while low elevation forests in the east had the highest. Mean values were 14.3 kg·ha-1·yr-1 for grasslands, 22.6 kg·ha-1·yr-1 for high elevation forests, 58 kg·ha-1·yr-1 for low elevation low temperature forests, and 82.9 kg·ha-1·yr-1 for low elevation high temperature forests. This continental scale estimation of net nitrogen mineralization provides a means of comparing net nitrogen mineralization across regions, and the databases developed from this study are useful for accounting for nitrogen limitations in large scale ecosystem modeling.


Cite this paper
L. Chapman, S. McNulty, G. Sun and Y. Zhang, "Net Nitrogen Mineralization in Natural Ecosystems across the Conterminous US," International Journal of Geosciences, Vol. 4 No. 9, 2013, pp. 1300-1312. doi: 10.4236/ijg.2013.49125.
References
[1]   [1] E. Epstein, “Mineral Nutrition of Plants: Principles and Perspectives,” Wiley, New York, 1972.

[2]   F. S. Chapin III, “The Mineral Nutrition of Wild Plants,” Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, Vol. 11, 1980, pp. 233-260.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.es.11.110180.001313

[3]   G. H. Ros, E. J. M. Temminghoff and E. Hoffland, “Nitrogen Mineralization: A Review and Meta-Analysis of the Predictive Value of Soil Tests,” European Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 62, No. 1, 2011, pp. 162-173.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2389.2010.01318.x

[4]   R. Oren, D. S. Ellsworth, K. H. Johnsen, N. Phillips, B. E. Ewers, C. Maier, K. Schafer, H. McCarthy, G. Hendrey, S. G. McNulty and G. G. Katul, “Soil Fertility Limits Carbon Sequestration by Forest Ecosystems in a CO2-Enriched Atmosphere,” Nature, Vol. 411, No. 6836, 2001, pp. 469-472. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/35078064

[5]   J. D. Aber, K. J. Nadelhoffer, P. Steudler and J. M. Melillo, “Nitrogen Saturation in Northern Forest Ecosystems,” BioScience, Vol. 39, No. 6, 1989, pp. 378-286.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1311067

[6]   M. E. Fenn, M. A. Poth, J. D. Aber, J. S. Baron, B. T. Bormann, D. W. Johnson, A. D. Lemly, S. G. McNulty, D. F. Ryan and R. Stottlemyer, “Nitrogen Excess in North American Ecosystems: Predisposing Factors, Ecosystem Responses, and Management Strategies,” Ecological Applications, Vol. 8, No. 3, 1998, pp. 706-733.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/1051-0761(1998)008[0706:NEINAE]2.0.CO;2

[7]   J. M. Bremner and C. S. Mulvaney, “Nitrogen-Total,” In: A. L. Page, Ed., Methods of Soil Analysis Part 2: Chemical and Microbiological Properties, 2nd Edition, Madison, Wisconsin, 1982, pp. 595-624.

[8]   J. Pastor, J. D. Aber, C. A. McClaugherty and J. M. Melillo, “Aboveground Production and N and P Cycling along a Nitrogen Mineralization Gradient on Blackhawk Island, Wisconsin,” Ecology, Vol. 65, No. 1, 1984, pp. 256-268. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1939478

[9]   K. J. Nadelhoffer, J. D. Aber and J. M. Melillo, “Leaf-Litter Production and Soil Organic Matter Dynamics along a Nitrogen-Availability Gradient in Southern Wisconsin (USA),” Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Vol. 13, No. 1, 1983, pp. 12-21.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/x83-003

[10]   R. V. O’Neill, D. L. DeAngelis, J. J. Pastor, B. J. Jackson and W. M. Post, “Multiple Nutrient Limitations in Ecological Models,” Ecological Modelling, Vol. 46, No. 3, 1989, pp. 147-163.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0304-3800(89)90015-X

[11]   W. Cramer, A. Bondeau, F. I. Woodward, I. C. Prentice, R. A. Betts, V. Brovkin, P. M. Cox, V. Fisher, J. A. Foley, A. D. Friend, C. Kucharik, M. R. Lomas, N. Ramankutty, S. Sitch, B. Smith, A. White and C. Young-Molling, “Global Response of Terrestrial Ecosystem Structure and Function to CO2 and Climate Change: Results from Six Dynamic Global Vegetation Models,” Global Change Biology, Vol. 7, No. 4, 2001, pp. 357-373.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2486.2001.00383.x

[12]   C. A. Campbell, Y. W. Jame and G. E. Winkleman, “Mineralization Rate Constants and Their Use for Estimating Nitrogen Mineralization in Some Canadian Prairie Soils,” Canadian Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 64, No. 3, 1984, pp. 333-343. http://dx.doi.org/10.4141/cjss84-035

[13]   Y. P. Wang and B. Z. Houlton, “Nitrogen Constraints on Terrestrial Carbon Uptake: Implications for the Global Carbon-Climate Feedback,” Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 36, No. 24, 2009, Article ID: L24403.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2009GL041009

[14]   Y. P. Wang, E. Kowalczyk, R. Leuning, G. Abramowitz, M. R. Raupach, B. Pak, E. van Gorsel and A. Luhar, “Diagnosing Errors in a Land Surface Model (CABLE) in the Time and Frequency Domains,” Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 116, No. G1, 2011, Article ID: G01034.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010JG001385

[15]   S. Piao, S. Sitch, P. Ciais, P. Friedlingstein, P. Peylin, X. Wang, et al., “Evaluation of Terrestrial Carbon Cycle Models for Their Response to Climate Variability and to CO2 Trends,” Global Change Biology, Vol. 19, No. 7, 2013, pp. 2117-2132.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.12187

[16]   W. Fan, J. C. Randolph and J. L. Ehman, “Regional Estimation of Nitrogen Mineralization in Forest Ecosystems Using Geographic Information Systems,” Ecological Applications, Vol. 8, No. 3, 1998, pp. 734-747.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/1051-0761(1998)008[0734:REONMI]2.0.CO;2

[17]   D. Binkley and S. C. Hart, “The Components of Nitrogen Availability Assessments in Forest Soils,” Advances in Soil Sciences, Vol. 10, 1989, 57-112.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4613-8847-0_2

[18]   M. J. Swift, O. W. Heal and J. M. Anderson, “Decomposition in Terrestrial Ecosystems,” University of California Press, Berkeley, 1979.

[19]   R. F. Powers, “Nitrogen Mineralization along an Altitudinal Gradient: Interactions of Soil Temperature, Moisture, and Substrate Quality,” Forest Ecology and Management, Vol. 30, No. 1-4, 1990, pp. 19-29.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0378-1127(90)90123-S

[20]   J. D. Knoepp and W. T. Swank, “Using Soil Temperature and Moisture to Predict Forest Soil Nitrogen Mineralization,” Biology and Fertility of Soils, Vol. 36, No. 3, 2002, pp. 177-182.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00374-002-0536-7

[21]   J. Lloyd and J. A. Taylor, “On the Temperature Dependence of Soil Respiration,” Functional Ecology, Vol. 8, No. 3, 1994, pp. 315-323. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2389824

[22]   K. Vlassak, “Total Soil Nitrogen and Nitrogen Mineralization,” Plant and Soil, Vol. 32, No. 1, 1970, pp. 27-32.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01372843

[23]   J. Pastor, M. A. Stillwell and D. Tilman, “Nitrogen Mineralization and Nitrification in Four Minnesota Old Fields,” Oecologia, Vol. 71, No. 4, 1987, pp. 481-485.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00379285

[24]   S. G. McNulty, J. D. Aber, T. M. McLellan and S. M. Katt, “Nitrogen Cycling in High Elevation Forests of the Northeastern US in Relation to Nitrogen Deposition,” Ambio, Vol. 19, No. 1, 1990, pp. 38-40.

[25]   D. W. Schindler and S. E. Bayley, “The Biosphere as an Increasing Sink for Atmospheric Carbon: Estimates from Increased Nitrogen Deposition,” Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 7, No. 4, 1993, pp. 717-733.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/93GB02562

[26]   D. W. Cole and M. Rapp, “Elemental Cycling in Forest Ecosystems,” In: D. E. Reichle, Ed., Dynamic Properties of Forest Ecosystems, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1981, pp. 301-409.

[27]   G. Stanford, J. N. Carter and S. J. Smith, “Estimates of Potentially Mineralizable Soil Nitrogen Based on Short-Term Incubations,” Proceedings—Soil Science Society of America, Vol. 38, No. 1, 1974, pp. 99-102.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2136/sssaj1974.03615995003800010031x

[28]   Z. Dou, J. D. Toth, J. D. Jabro, R. H. Fox and D. D. Fritton, “Soil Nitrogen Mineralization during Laboratory Incubation: Dynamics and Model Fitting,” Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Vol. 28, No. 4, 1996, pp. 625-632.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0038-0717(95)00184-0

[29]   D. Hope, W. Zhu, C. Gries, J. Oleson, J. Kayne, N. B. Grimm and L. A. Baker, “Spatial Variation in Soil Inorganic Nitrogen across an Arid Urban Ecosystem,” Urban Ecosystems, Vol. 8, No. 3-4, 2005, pp. 251-273.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11252-005-3261-9

[30]   I. C. Burke, W. K. Lauenroth and W. J. Parton, “Regional and Temporal Variation in Net Primary Production and Nitrogen Mineralization in Grasslands,” Ecology, Vol. 78, No. 5, 1997, pp. 1330-1340.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/0012-9658(1997)078[1330:RATVIN]2.0.CO;2

[31]   H. Dou, A. K. Alva and B. R. Khakural, “Nitrogen Mineralization from Citrus Tree Residues under Different Production Conditions,” Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 61, No. 4, 1997, pp. 1226-1232.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2136/sssaj1997.03615995006100040031x

[32]   M. C. Fisk and S. K. Schmidt, “Nitrogen Mineralization and Microbial Biomass Nitrogen Dynamics in Three Alpine Tundra Communities,” Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 59, No. 4, 1995, pp. 1036-1043.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2136/sssaj1995.03615995005900040012x

[33]   M. C. Fisk, D. R. Zak and T. R. Crow, “Nitrogen Storage and Cycling in Old- and Second-Growth Northern Hardwood Forests,” Ecology, Vol. 83, No. 1, 2002, pp. 73-87.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/0012-9658(2002)083[0073:NSACIO]2.0.CO;2

[34]   D. W. Frazer, J. G. McColl and R. F. Powers, “Soil Nitrogen Mineralization in a Clearcutting Chronosequence in a Northern California Conifer Forest,” Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 54, No. 4, 1990, pp. 1145-1152. http://dx.doi.org/10.2136/sssaj1990.03615995005400040038x

[35]   F. S. Gilliam, M. B. Adams and B. M. Yurish, “Ecosystem Nutrient Responses to Chronic Nitrogen Inputs at Fernow Experimental Forest, West Virginia,” Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Vol. 26, No. 2, 1996, pp. 196-205. http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/x26-023

[36]   K. C. Grady and S. C. Hart, “Influences of Thinning, Prescribed Burning, and Wildfire on Soil Processes and Properties in Southwestern Ponderosa Pine Forests: A Retrospective Study,” Forest Ecology and Management, Vol. 234, No. 1-3, 2006, pp. 123-135.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2006.06.031

[37]   P. M. Groffman, R. V. Pouyat, M. L. Cadenasso, W. C. Zipperer, K. Szlavecz, I. D. Yesilonis, L. E. Band and G. S. Brush, “Land Use Context and Natural Soil Controls on Plant Community Composition and Soil Nitrogen and Carbon Dynamics in Urban and Rural Forests,” Forest Ecology and Management, Vol. 236, No. 2-3, 2006, pp. 177-192. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2006.09.002

[38]   K. A. Hibbard, S. Archer, D. S. Schimel and D. W. Valentine, “Biogeochemical Changes Accompanying Woody Plant Encroachment in a Subtropical Savanna,” Ecology, Vol. 82, No. 7, 2001, pp. 1999-2011.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/0012-9658(2001)082[1999:BCAWPE]2.0.CO;2

[39]   A. B. Joshi, D. R. Vann, A. H. Johnson and E. K. Miller, “Nitrogen Availability and Forest Productivity along a Climosequence on Whiteface Mountain, New York,” Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Vol. 33, No. 10, 2003, pp. 1880-1891. http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/x03-105

[40]   R. L. McCulley, I. C. Burke and W. K. Lauenroth, “Conservation of Nitrogen Increases with Precipitation across a Major Grassland Gradient in the Central Great Plains of North America,” Oecologia, Vol. 159, No. 3, 2009, pp. 571-581. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00442-008-1229-1

[41]   S. G. McNulty and J. D. Aber, “Effects of Chronic Nitrogen Additions on Nitrogen Cycling in a High-Elevation Spruce-Fir Stand,” Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Vol. 23, No. 7, 1993, pp. 1252-1263.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/x93-160

[42]   S. S. Perakis and E. R. Sinkhorn, “Biogeochemistry of a Temperate Forest Nitrogen Gradient,” Ecology, Vol. 92, No. 7, 2011, pp. 1481-1491.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/10-1642.1

[43]   K. B. Piatek and H. L. Allen, “Nitrogen Mineralization in a Pine Plantation Fifteen Years after Harvesting and Site Preparation,” Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 63, No. 4, 1999, pp. 990-998.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2136/sssaj1999.634990x

[44]   L. E. Rustad, J. L. Campbell, G. M. Marion, R. J. Norby, M. J. Mitchell, A. E. Hartley, J. H. C. Cornelissen and J. Gurevitch, “A Meta-Analysis of the Response of Soil Respiration, Net Nitrogen Mineralization, and Aboveground Plant Growth to Experimental Ecosystem Warming,” Oecologia, Vol. 126, No. 4, 2001, pp. 543-562.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s004420000544

[45]   R. H. Strader, D. Binkley and C. G. Wells, “Nitrogen Mineralization in High Elevation Forests of the Appalachians. I. Regional Patterns in Southern Spruce-Fir Forests,” Biogeochemistry, Vol. 7, No. 2, 1989, pp. 131-145.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00004125

[46]   C. F. Eno, “Nitrate Production in the Field by Incubating the Soil in Polyethylene Bags,” Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 24, No. 4, 1960, pp. 277-279.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2136/sssaj1960.03615995002400040019x

[47]   J. F. DiStefano and H. L. Gholz, “A Proposed Use of Ion Exchange Resins to Measure Nitrogen Mineralization and Nitrification in Intact Soil Cores,” Communications in Soil Science & Plant Analysis, Vol. 17, No. 9, 1986, pp. 989-998. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00103628609367767

[48]   D. Binkley, J. Aber, J. Pastor and K. Nadelhoffer, “Nitrogen Availability in Some Wisconsin Forests: Comparisons of Resin Bags and On-Site Incubations,” Biology and Fertility of Soils, Vol. 2, No. 2, 1986, pp. 77-82.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00257583

[49]   X. Zou, D. W. Valentine, R. L. Sanford Jr. and D. Binkley, “Resin-Core and Buried-Bag Estimates of Nitrogen Transformations in Costa Rican Lowland Rainforests,” Plant and Soil, Vol. 139, No. 2, 1992, pp. 275-283.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00009319

[50]   D. Binkley, R. Bell and P. Sollins, “Comparison of Methods for Estimating Soil Nitrogen Transformations in Adjacent Conifer and Alder-Conifer Forests,” Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Vol. 22, No. 6, 1992, pp. 858-863. http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/x92-115

[51]   N. A. Scott and D. Binkley, “Foliage Litter Quality and Annual Net N Mineralization: Comparison across North American Forest Sites,” Oecologia, Vol. 111, No. 2, 1997, pp. 151-159. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s004420050219

[52]   M. Unkovich, D. Herridge, M. Peoples, G. Cadisch, B. Boddey, K. Giller, B. Alves and P. Chalk, “Analysis of Nitrogen,” Measuring Plant-Associated Nitrogen Fixation in Agricultural Systems, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Canberra, 2008, pp. 45-84.

[53]   S. G. McNulty, E. C. Cohen, J. A. Moore Myers, T. J. Sullivan and H. Li, “Estimates of Critical Acid Loads and Exceedances for Forest Soils across the Conterminous United States,” Environmental Pollution, Vol. 149, No. 3, 2007, pp. 281-292.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2007.05.025

[54]   J. W. Grimm and J. A. Lynch, “Enhanced Wet Deposition Estimates Using Modeled Precipitation Inputs,” Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, Vol. 90, No. 1, 2004, pp. 243-268.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/B:EMAS.0000003592.56006.a0

[55]   Illinois State Water Survey NADP Program Office, “National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) (NRSP-3),” Illinois State Water Survey NADP Program Office, Champaign, 2005.

[56]   US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Clean Air Markets: Data and Maps,” 2007.
http://cfpub.epa.gov/gdm/index.cfm?fuseaction=aciddeposition.wizard

[57]   R. H. Waring and W. H. Schlesinger, “Forest Ecosystems: Concepts and Management,” Academic Press, Orlando, 1985.

[58]   W. W. Hargrove and F. M. Hoffman, “A Flux Atlas for Representativeness and Statistical Extrapolation of the AmeriFlux Network,” ORNL Technical Memorandum ORNL/TM-2004/112, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, 2004, p. 37.

[59]   J. Fry, G. Xian, S. Jin, J. Dewitz, C. Homer, L. Yang, C. Barnes, N. Herold and J. Wickham, “Completion of the 2006 National Land Cover Database for the Conterminous United States,” Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, Vol. 77, No. 9, 2011, pp. 858-864.

[60]   P. Fisher and J. Wood, “What Is a Mountain? Or the Englishman Who Went up a Boolean Geographical Concept But Realised It Was Fuzzy,” Geography, Vol. 83, No. 3, 1998, pp. 247-256.

[61]   J. M. Welker, J. T. Fahnestock, K. L. Povirk, C. J. Bilbrough and R. E. Piper, “Alpine Grassland CO2 Exchange and Nitrogen Cycling: Grazing History Effects, Medicine Bow Range, Wyoming, USA,” Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, Vol. 36, No. 1, 2004, pp. 11-20.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1657/1523-0430(2004)036[0011:AGCEAN]2.0.CO;2

[62]   P. Sollins, C. C. Grier, F. M. McCorison, K. Cromack Jr., R. Fogel and R. L. Fredriksen, “The Internal Element Cycles of an Old-Growth Douglas-Fir Ecosystem in Western Oregon,” Ecological Monographs, Vol. 50, No. 3, 1980, pp. 261-285. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2937252

[63]   F. Berendse, “Organic Matter Accumulation and Nitrogen Mineralization during Secondary Succession in Heathland Ecosystems,” Journal of Ecology, Vol. 78, No. 2, 1990, pp. 413-427. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2261121

[64]   P. M. Vitousek and W. A. Reiners, “Ecosystem Succession and Nutrient Retention: A Hypothesis,” BioScience, Vol. 25, No. 6, 1975, pp. 376-381.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1297148

[65]   S. G. McNulty and J. L. Boggs, “A Conceptual Framework: Redefining Forest Soil’s Critical Acid Loads under a Changing Climate,” Environmental Pollution, Vol. 158, No. 6, 2010, pp. 2053-2058.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2009.11.028

 
 
Top