Gross N-cycling rates in ephemeral wetlands
Ephemeral wetlands or depressions in hummocky landscapes have high levels of C, N, and soil moisture, often leading to high nutrient cycling activity. However, measuring soil nitrate and ammonium pools is typically a poor indication of N-cycling activity or of the soil N that is available for other processes such as N2O emissions. This study used stable 15N isotope dilution techniques in cultivated and uncultivated ephemeral wetlands in central Saskatchewan to quantify land use effects on gross mineralization and nitrification rates. In-field incubation experiments were repeated in early May, mid-June and late July. There was a clear land use effect on inorganic soil N levels, with significantly less NH4+ and more NO3- in the cultivated wetland soils. However, the rates of NH4+ mineralization and NO3 - nitrification were similar for both land uses, indicating similar substrate availability but different N-consuming processes. Both N pools turned over in as little as 1-2 d, highlighting the ineffectuality of measuring inorganic N pools as a predictor for N availability in these soils.
15N isotope dilution
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