Bacterial, fungal, and plant communities exhibit no biomass or compositional response to two years of simulated nitrogen deposition in a semiarid grassland
Nitrogen (N) deposition affects myriad aspects of terrestrial ecosystem structure and function, and microbial communities may be particularly sensitive to anthropogenic N inputs. However, our understanding of N deposition effects on microbial communities is far from complete, especially for drylands where data are comparatively rare. To address the need for an improved understanding of dryland biological responses to N deposition, we conducted a two-year fertilization experiment in a semiarid grassland on the Colorado Plateau in the southwestern United States. We evaluated effects of varied levels of N inputs on archaeal, bacterial, fungal and chlorophyte community composition within three microhabitats: biological soil crusts (biocrusts), soil below biocrusts, and the plant rhizosphere. Surprisingly, N addition did not affect the community composition or diversity of any of these microbial groups; however, microbial community composition varied significantly among sampling microhabitats. Further, while plant richness, diversity, and cover showed no response to N addition, there were strong linkages between plant properties and microbial community structure. Overall, these findings highlight the potential for some dryland communities to have limited biotic ability to retain augmented N inputs, possibly leading to large N losses to the atmosphere and to aquatic systems.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Bacterial, fungal, and plant communities exhibit no biomass or compositional response to two years of simulated nitrogen deposition in a semiarid grassland|
|Series title||Environmental Microbiology|
|Contributing office(s)||Southwest Biological Science Center|