Effects of temperature and fertilization on nitrogen cycling and community composition of an urban lawn

Authors

  • NEETA S. BIJOOR,

    1. Department of Earth System Science, Croul Hall, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-3100, USA,
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  • CLAUDIA I. CZIMCZIK,

    1. Department of Earth System Science, Croul Hall, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-3100, USA,
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  • DIANE E. PATAKI,

    1. Department of Earth System Science, Croul Hall, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-3100, USA,
    2. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Steinhaus Hall, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-2525, USA,
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  • SHARON A. BILLINGS

    1. Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Kansas Biological Survey, Higuchi Hall, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66047, USA
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Diane E. Pataki, Department of Earth System Science, Croul Hall, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-3100, USA, tel. +1 949 824 9411, fax +1 949 824 3874, e-mail: dpataki@uci.edu

Abstract

We examined the influence of temperature and management practices on the nitrogen (N) cycling of turfgrass, the largest irrigated crop in the United States. We measured nitrous oxide (N2O) fluxes, and plant and soil N content and isotopic composition with a manipulative experiment of temperature and fertilizer application. Infrared lamps were used to increase surface temperature by 3.5±1.3 °C on average and control and heated plots were split into high and low fertilizer treatments. The N2O fluxes increased following fertilizer application and were also directly related to soil moisture. There was a positive effect of warming on N2O fluxes. Soils in the heated plots were enriched in nitrogen isotope ratio (δ15N) relative to control plots, consistent with greater gaseous losses of N. For all treatments, C4 plant C/N ratio was negatively correlated with plant δ15N, suggesting that low leaf N was associated with the use of isotopically depleted N sources such as mineralized organic matter. A significant and unexpected result was a large, rapid increase in the proportion of C4 plants in the heated plots relative to control plots, as measured by the carbon isotope ratio (δ13C) of total harvested aboveground biomass. The C4 plant biomass was dominated by crabgrass, a common weed in C3 fescue lawns. Our results suggest that an increase in temperature caused by climate change as well as the urban heat island effect may result in increases in N2O emissions from fertilized urban lawns. In addition, warming may exacerbate weed invasions, which may require more intensive management, e.g. herbicide application, to manage species composition.

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