Soil biogeochemical responses to multiple co-occurring forms of human-induced environmental change

Maya Williamson, Becky A. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human activities cause a multitude of environmental issues, including increased temperatures and altered precipitation patterns associated with climate change, air pollution, and other impacts of urbanization. One area highly affected by these issues is the Sonoran Desert, specifically the Phoenix metropolitan area where urbanization is among the most rapid in the United States. Most studies investigate these multiple environmental change factors independently or sometimes in pairs, but rarely all together as co-occurring forms of change. We examined how the simultaneous manipulation of increasing temperatures, altered precipitation patterns, nitrogen deposition, and urbanization influenced soil respiration and mineral N pools in the Sonoran Desert. Soil was collected from urban and exurban sites, from both nitrogen-fertilized and control plots. To simulate projected climate change, the soils were incubated in microcosm at the annual average Phoenix temperature as well a 2 ℃ increase under a factorial precipitation treatment of decreased frequency and increased pulse size. Our results show that C and N dynamics were altered by all four forms of environmental change. However, the dominance of significant 3- and 4-way interactions among the four environmental factors for both respiration and mineral N pools demonstrates that the impact of any given form of environmental change will depend on the levels of the other environmental factors. In other words, the cumulative effect of altered precipitation, fertilization, temperature, and urbanization on soil biogeochemical processes is not necessarily predictable from their individual impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1109-1121
Number of pages13
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Altered precipitation
  • Climate change
  • N deposition
  • Soil respiration
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Soil biogeochemical responses to multiple co-occurring forms of human-induced environmental change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this