The invasive annual cheatgrass increases nitrogen availability in 24-year-old replicated field plots

Oecologia
John M Stark, Jeanette M Norton

Abstract

Previous studies comparing invaded and non-invaded sites suggest that cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) causes soil N cycling to increase. Unfortunately, these correlative studies fail to distinguish whether cheatgrass caused the differences in N cycling, or if cheatgrass simply invaded sites where N availability was greater. We measured soil C and N concentrations and net and gross N-cycling rates on 24-year-old replicated field plots in a sagebrush-steppe ecosystem that had been plowed, fumigated, and seeded to different plant communities in 1984. Laboratory assays of soil collected throughout the soil profiles (0-60 cm) showed that soil NO3 (-), organic C and N, and net N mineralization, net nitrification, and soil respiration rates were all greater beneath cheatgrass than in sagebrush-perennial grass plots. In surface soils (0-10 cm), field and lab assays on five sampling dates during 2 years showed gross N mineralization, net N mineralization, and net nitrification rates were all faster beneath cheatgrass than in sagebrush-perennial grass plots. Modeling analyses based on soil respiration and gross N-cycling rates suggest that cheatgrass provides soil microbes with lower C:N substrates and that this could explain the faster ...Continue Reading

Citations

Apr 20, 2016·Global Change Biology·Dana M BlumenthalElise Pendall
Oct 4, 2016·Journal of Environmental Quality·Brian M WallaceGerry Neilsen

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