Seasonality is more important than forest type in regulating the pool size and composition of soil soluble N in temperate forests

Lei Gao, Paul W. Hill, Davey L. Jones, Yafen Guo, Fei Gao, Xiaoyang Cui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Soil soluble nitrogen (N) is crucial to the N nutrition and productivity of plants. Consequently, understanding the factors that affect its pool size and composition is of considerable importance. Here, six typical forest types in northeast China were investigated to determine the dynamics of soil soluble N across seasons and plant communities, and the potential drivers. Soil free amino acids, NH4+, NO3, dissolved organic N (DON) and a variety of soil characteristics were measured over the growing season (from May to September). Seasonality showed a stronger effect on the availability of soil inorganic N and free amino acids than vegetation. The coefficients of variation of soil inorganic N, amino acid-N and the potential drivers (moisture and DON) appeared to be greater for season, and the concentrations of these available N sources tended to be higher at the beginning than at the height of growing season. Potential soil drivers (e.g. moisture, microbial biomass-N and DON) and plant phenology together drove the seasonal dynamics of inorganic N and amino acid-N. Arginine, histidine, serine, leucine, aspartic acid, glycine, glutamic acid and proline composed the dominant soil amino acid pool in the temperate forest soils. The basic amino acids (arginine and histidine) were consistently dominant irrespective of vegetation and season, suggesting that selective sorption by the soil solid phase could play an important role in regulating the cycling of amino acid-N in these temperate forest ecosystems. This research indicates that changes in local soil properties, and plant phenology caused by seasonality, exert a powerful influence on the characteristics of plant-soil N cycling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-295
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


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