Nitrogen transformation rates in eight northeastern US research sites were measured in soil samples taken in the early season of 2000 and the late season of 2001. Net mineralization and nitrification rates were determined on Oa or A horizon samples by two different sampling methods - intact cores and repeated measurements on composite samples taken from around the cores. Net rates in the composite samples (n=30) showed three different temporal patterns: high net nitrification with minimal NH4+ accumulation, high net nitrification and high NH4+ accumulation, and minimal net nitrification and moderate NH4+ accumulation. The 4-week net rates in intact cores were about half that of the rates from the composite samples but were well related (R2 > 0.70). Composite samples from sites that exhibited high net nitrification were incubated with acetylene and net nitrification was completely stopped, suggesting an autotrophic pathway. Gross mineralization and nitrification (2000 only) rates were estimated using the isotope dilution technique. Gross rates of nitrification and consumption in intact cores were relatively low. Gross rates of mineralization and net rates of nitrification were both related to the soil C/N ratio, with higher rates generally occurring in sites containing Acer saccharum as a dominant or co-dominant species. The comparison of methods suggests that all provide a similar hierarchy of potential rates but that the degree of net nitrification is strongly influenced by the degree of sample disturbance. Differences between sites appear to be related to an interaction of soil (C/N) and vegetation (A. saccharum contribution) characteristics. ?? 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Mineralization and nitrification patterns at eight northeastern USA forested research sites