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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Denitrification and Nitrous Oxide Production in Successional and Old-Growth Michigan Forests1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 48 No. 2, p. 383-389
    Received: May 12, 1983
    Accepted: Oct 6, 1983

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  1. G. Philip Robertson and
  2. James M. Tiedje2



Soils from 12 successional and old-growth forests in Michigan were examined for N2O production under each of three incubation conditions: without amendment, in a 20% (vol/vol) acetylene atmosphere, and in an acetylene-amended atmosphere after a simulated rainfall. Intact cores were taken during the growing season and incubated in the laboratory for 90 to 180 min in a porespace-recirculation system that sampled for N2O and CO2 at 10-min intervals. Measurable rates of N2O production occurred in cores from all sites and under all incubation conditions; in general but not always, rates were higher in the presence of C2H2 than in its absence, and increased upon simulated rainfall. Under acetylene- and water-amended conditions, mean production was highest in an old-growth and a late-successional hardwood site and in a recent clearcut (30 to 80 mg N2O-N m−2 d−1); intermediate rates (2 to 3 mg N2O-N m−2 d−1) were observed in soils from a midsuccessional hardwood stand and from two old-field communities, and low rates (<0.6 mg N2O-N m−2 d−1) occurred in soils from a young sand dune community, from a midsuccessional and a late-successional hardwood stand, and from a managed, a midsuccessional, and an old-growth conifer community. Nitrate production, CO2 production and water content could explain 65% of the variation in rates of N2O production among sites under acetylene-amended conditions. Nitrate pool sizes and pH differed substantially among sites but were not well correlated with N2O production. The presence of a class of cores that produced N2O only in the absence of acetylene suggests that sources of N2O other than denitrifiers may be important in some sites.

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