Soil biological responses to C, N and P fertilization in a polar desert of Antarctica

Rebecca Ball, Byron J. Adams, J. E. Barrett, Diana H. Wall, Ross A. Virginia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In the polar desert ecosystem of the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, biology is constrained by available liquid water, low temperatures, as well as the availability of organic matter and nutrient elements. These soil ecosystems are climate-sensitive, where projected future warming may have profound effects on biological communities and biogeochemical cycling. Warmer temperatures will mobilize meltwater from permafrost and glaciers, may increase precipitation and may be accompanied by pulses of nutrient availability. Enhanced water and nutrient availability have the potential to greatly influence desert soil biology and ecosystem processes. The objectives of this 5-year study were to determine which nutrient elements (C, N, P) are most limiting to dry valley soil communities and whether landscape history (i.e., in situ soil type and stoichiometry) influences soil community response to nutrient additions. After 3 years of no noticeable response, soil CO2 flux was significantly higher under addition of C+ N than the other treatments, regardless of in situ soil stoichiometry, but microbial biomass and invertebrate abundance were variable and not influenced in the same manner. A stable isotope incubation suggests that fertilization increases C and N mineralization from organic matter via stimulating microbial activity, with loss of both the applied treatments as well in situ C and N. However, these responses are relatively short-lived, suggesting long-term impacts on C and N cycling would only occur if meltwater and nutrient pulses are sustained over time, a scenario that is increasingly likely for the dry valleys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-18
Number of pages12
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Volume122
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

Fingerprint

Fertilization
Antarctica
deserts
Soil
desert
soil ecosystem
valleys
nutrient
snowmelt
Food
nutrients
stoichiometry
nutrient availability
meltwater
valley
soil
soil organic matter
Ecosystem
landscape history
soil biology

Keywords

  • Nutrient fertilization
  • Polar desert
  • Soil invertebrates
  • Soil respiration
  • Stoichiometry
  • Water pulses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Soil Science

Cite this

Soil biological responses to C, N and P fertilization in a polar desert of Antarctica. / Ball, Rebecca; Adams, Byron J.; Barrett, J. E.; Wall, Diana H.; Virginia, Ross A.

In: Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Vol. 122, 01.07.2018, p. 7-18.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ball, Rebecca ; Adams, Byron J. ; Barrett, J. E. ; Wall, Diana H. ; Virginia, Ross A. / Soil biological responses to C, N and P fertilization in a polar desert of Antarctica. In: Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 2018 ; Vol. 122. pp. 7-18.
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