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Citation. Wedin, D. A.; Pastor, J. 1993. Nitrogen mineralization dynamics in grass monocultures. Oecologia 96:186-192.   [1210  LTER]

Abstract. Although Wedin and Tilman (1990) observed large differences in in situ N mineralization among monocultures of five grass species, the mechanisms responsible were unclear. In this study, we found that the species did not change total soil C or N, and soil C: N ratio (range 12.9-14.1) was only slightly, but significantly, changed after four years. Nor did the species significantly affect the total amount of N mineralized (per g soil N) in year-long aerobic laboratory incubations. However, short-term \ mineralization rates in the incubations (day 1-day 17) differed significantly among species and were significantly correlated with annual in situ mineralization. When pool sizes and turnover rates of potentially mineralizable N (No) were estimated, the best model treated No as two pools: a labile pool, which differed among species in size (N1, range 2-3% of total N) and rate constant (h. range 0.04-0.26 wk-1), and a larger recalcitrant pool with a constant mineralization rate across species. The rate constant of the labile pool (h) was highly correlated with annual in situ N mineralization (+0.96). Therefore, plant species need only change the dynamics of a small fraction of soil organic matter, in this case estimated to be less than 3%, to have large effects on overall system N dynamics.

Keywords. N mineralization, Monocultures, Soil organic matter, Grasses

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