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1 June 2002 Influence of climate variability on plant production and N-mineralization in Central US grasslands
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We assessed the influence of annual and seasonal climate variability over soil organic matter (SOM), above-ground net primary production (ANPP) and in situ net nitrogen (N) mineralization in a regional field study across the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP) North American mid-latitude transect (Koch et al. 1995). We hypothesized that while trends in SOM are strongly correlated with mean climatic parameters, ANPP and net N-mineralization are more strongly influenced by annual and seasonal climate because they are dynamic processes sensitive to short-term variation in temperature and water availability. Seasonal and monthly deviations from long-term climatic means, particularly precipitation, were greatest at the semi-arid end of the transect. ANPP is sensitive to this climatic variability, but is also strongly correlated with mean annual climate parameters. In situ net N-mineralization and nitrification were weakly influenced by soil water content and temperature during the incubation and were less sensitive to seasonal climatic variables than ANPP, probably because microbial transformations of N in the soil are mediated over even finer temporal scales. We found no relationship between ANPP and in situ net N-mineralization. These results suggests that methods used to estimate in situ net N-mineralization are inadequate to represent N-availability across gradients where microbial biomass, N-immobilization or competition among plants and microbes vary.

Abbreviations: ANPP = Above-ground net primary production; CO-KS = Colorado-Kansas; CO-NE = Colorado-Nebraska; MAP = Mean annual precipitation; SOM = Soil organic matter.

J. E. Barrett, R. L. McCulley, D. R. Lane, I. C. Burke, and W. K. Lauenroth "Influence of climate variability on plant production and N-mineralization in Central US grasslands," Journal of Vegetation Science 13(3), 383-394, (1 June 2002).[0383:IOCVOP]2.0.CO;2
Received: 19 January 2001; Accepted: 28 March 2002; Published: 1 June 2002

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