Report

The Global Stoichiometry of Litter Nitrogen Mineralization

Science  01 Aug 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5889, pp. 684-686
DOI: 10.1126/science.1159792

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text
As a service to the community, AAAS/Science has made this article free with registration.

Abstract

Plant residue decomposition and the nutrient release to the soil play a major role in global carbon and nutrient cycling. Although decomposition rates vary strongly with climate, nitrogen immobilization into litter and its release in mineral forms are mainly controlled by the initial chemical composition of the residues. We used a data set of ∼2800 observations to show that these global nitrogen-release patterns can be explained by fundamental stoichiometric relationships of decomposer activity. We show how litter quality controls the transition from nitrogen accumulation into the litter to release and alters decomposers' respiration patterns. Our results suggest that decomposers lower their carbon-use efficiency to exploit residues with low initial nitrogen concentration, a strategy used broadly by bacteria and consumers across trophic levels.

View Full Text