University Of Tasmania

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Soil nitrogen cycle unresponsive to decadal long climate change in a Tasmanian grassland

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 09:58 authored by Ruttig, T, Mark HovendenMark Hovenden

Increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and global air temperature affect all terrestrial ecosystems and often lead to enhanced ecosystem productivity, which in turn dampens the rise in atmospheric CO2 by removing CO2 from the atmosphere. As most terrestrial ecosystems are limited in their productivity by the availability of nitrogen (N), there is concern about the persistence of this terrestrial carbon sink, as these ecosystems might develop a progressive N limitation (PNL). An increase in the gross soil N turnover may alleviate PNL, as more mineral N is made available for plant uptake. So far, climate change experiments have mainly manipulated one climatic factor only, but there is evidence that single-factor experiments usually overestimate the effects of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems. In this study, we investigated how simultaneous, decadal-long increases in CO2 and temperature affect the soil gross N dynamics in a native Tasmanian grassland under C3 and C4 vegetation. Our laboratory 15N labeling experiment showed that average gross N mineralization ranged from 4.9 to 11.3 µg N g−1 day−1 across the treatment combinations, while gross nitrification was about ten-times lower. Considering all treatment combinations, no significant effect of climatic treatments or vegetation type (C3 versus C4 grasses) on soil N cycling was observed.


Australian Research Council


Publication title









School of Natural Sciences


Kluwer Academic Publ

Place of publication

Van Godewijckstraat 30, Dordrecht, Netherlands, 3311 Gz

Rights statement

Copyright 2019 The Authors

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Native and residual pastures; Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences; Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences