Editor: Peter van Bodegom
Global patterns of soil microbial nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry in forest ecosystems
Article first published online: 26 MAY 2014
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Global Ecology and Biogeography
Volume 23, Issue 9, pages 979–987, September 2014
How to Cite
Li, P., Yang, Y., Han, W. and Fang, J. (2014), Global patterns of soil microbial nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry in forest ecosystems. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 23: 979–987. doi: 10.1111/geb.12190
- Issue published online: 13 AUG 2014
- Article first published online: 26 MAY 2014
- National Basic Research Program of China on Global Change. Grant Numbers: 2010CB950600, 2014CB954001
- National Natural Science Foundation of China. Grant Numbers: 31321061, 31322011, 41371213
- microbial biomass;
- nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry;
- soil pH;
- vegetation type
To investigate broad-scale patterns of soil microbial nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) stoichiometry and their environmental drivers.
By synthesizing 652 observations of soil microbial biomass N and P derived from the published literature, we investigated global patterns of soil microbial N, P and N:P ratios and their relationships with climate, soil and vegetation types.
Microbial N and P concentrations varied widely among forest types, with relatively low N and P concentrations but high N:P ratios in tropical forests. The N and P concentrations increased and the N:P ratio decreased with increasing latitude (or decreasing temperature). The N:P ratio showed a similar pattern along the precipitation gradient to that along the temperature gradient, whereas microbial N and P displayed weak trends along the precipitation gradient. Edaphic variables also regulated the patterns of microbial N and P stoichiometry: microbial N and P concentrations increased with soil N and P concentrations as well as with soil pH. Mixed-effects models revealed that edaphic factors explained the largest part of the variation in microbial N, P and the N:P ratio, suggesting their dominant role.
Our findings highlight that there are broad-scale patterns in microbial N, P and the N:P ratio along the gradients of latitude, temperature and precipitation, which are similar to those reported in plants and soils. The consistency of these patterns in plant–soil–microbe ecosystems supports the hypothesis that P is more often the major limiting element at low latitudes than at high latitudes.