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Evolution of nitrogen cycling in regrowing Amazonian rainforest

Journal article
Authors Viviane Figueiredo
Alex Enrich-Prast
Tobias Rütting
Published in Scientific Reports
Volume 9
ISSN 2045-2322
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Language en
Subject categories Forest Science, Soil Science, Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences, Terrestrial ecology


Extensive regions of tropical forests are subjected to high rates of deforestation and forest regrowth and both are strongly affect soil nutrient cycling. Nitrogen (N) dynamics changes during forest regrowth and the recovery of forests and functioning similar to pristine conditions depends on sufficient N availability. We show that, in a chronosequence of Amazonian forests, gross nitrification and, as a result, nitrate-to-ammonium (NO3−: NH4+) ratio were lower in all stages of regrowing forests (10 to 40 years) compared to pristine forest. This indicates the evolution of a more conservative and closed N cycle with reduced risk for N leaking out of the ecosystem in regrowing forests. Furthermore, our results indicate that mineralization and nitrification are decoupled in young regrowing forests (10 years), such as that high gross mineralization is accompanied by low gross nitrification, demonstrating a closed N cycle that at the same time maintains N supply for forest regrowth. We conclude that the status of gross nitrification in disturbed soil is a key process to understand the mechanisms of and time needed for tropical forest recovery.

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