Carbon and nitrogen dynamics across a natural precipitation gradient in Patagonia, Argentina

Amy T. Austin, Osvaldo Sala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

105 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Both ecosystem carbon gain and nutrient availability are largely constrained by the magnitude and seasonality of precipitation in arid and semi-arid ecosystems. We investigated the role of precipitation on ecosystem processes along an International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP) transect in temperate South America. The transect consists of a contiguous precipitation gradient in the southern region of Argentinean Patagonia (44-45° S), from 100 mm to 800 mm mean annual precipitation (MAP) and vegetation ranging from desert scrub to closed canopy forest. Gravimetric soil water content tracked changes in seasonal and annual precipitation, with a linear increase in soil water content with increasing MAP. Above-ground net primary production (ANPP) increased linearly along the gradient of precipitation (ANPP = - 31.2 + 0.52 MAP, r2 = 0.84, p = 0.028), supporting the relationship that carbon assimilation is largely controlled by available water in these sites, and was in general agreement with regional models of ANPP and rainfall. However, inorganic soil nitrogen was also highly linearly correlated with both MAP ([N] = 0.19 MAP - 32, r2 = 0.96, p = 0.003) and ANPP (ANPP = 2.6 [Ninorganic]+59.4, r2 = 0.79, p = 0.04), suggesting a direct control of precipitation on nitrogen turnover and an interaction with nitrogen availability in controlling carbon gain. The asynchrony of precipitation and changes in dominant vegetation may play important roles in determining the carbon-nitrogen interactions along this rainfall gradient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-360
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Vegetation Science
Volume13
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2002
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

net primary production
primary productivity
Argentina
carbon
nitrogen
ecosystems
soil water content
ecosystem
transect
soil water
water content
IGBP
rain
rainfall
vegetation
scrub
forest canopy
soil nitrogen
nutrient availability
shrublands

Keywords

  • Ammonium
  • Biogeochemistry
  • IGBP
  • Nitrate
  • Primary production
  • Rainfall
  • South America
  • Temperate ecosystem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Plant Science
  • Ecology

Cite this

Carbon and nitrogen dynamics across a natural precipitation gradient in Patagonia, Argentina. / Austin, Amy T.; Sala, Osvaldo.

In: Journal of Vegetation Science, Vol. 13, No. 3, 06.2002, p. 351-360.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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