Nitrogen and carbon cycling in a model longleaf pine community as affected by elevated atmospheric CO2
Increasing global atmospheric CO2 concentration has led to concerns regarding its potential effects on terrestrial ecosystem and the long-term storage of C and N in soil. This study examined responses to elevated CO2 in a typical regenerating longleaf pine-wiregrass community. The model community consisted of five plant species: (1) an evergreen conifer (Pinus palustris), (2) a bunch grass (Aristida stricta), (3) a broadleaf tree (Quercus margaretta), (4) a perennial herbaceous legume (Crotalaria rotundifolia), and (5) a herbaceous perennial (Asclepias tuberosa) grown at two CO2 concentrations (ambient and twice ambient). The CO2-enriched plots had greater aboveground biomass than ambient plots, mainly due to increased pine biomass. After 3 years, samples of the soil (Blanton loamy sand: loamy, siliceous, semiactive, thermic Grossarenic Paleudult) were collected from 0- to 5-, 5-to 10-, and 10-to 20-cm depth increments. Microbial respiration, potential C and N mineralization, and C turnover were measured during a 120-day incubation of the soil samples. Elevated CO2 decreased soil C respiration and C turnover, but increased N mineralization. Results indicate that soil C sequestration is likely for soils in this longleaf pine ecosystem.