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Effects of soil freezing on nitrogen (N) mineralization have been the subject of increased attention in the ecological literature, though fewer studies have examined N mineralization responses to successive mild freezing, severe freezing and cyclic freeze–thaw events. Even less is known about relationships of responses to soil N status. This study measured soil N mineralization and nitrification in the field along an experimental N gradient in a grassland of northern China during the dormant season (October 2005–April 2006), a period in which freezing naturally occurs. Net N mineralization exhibited great temporal variability, with nitrification being the predominant N transformation process. Soil microbial biomass C and N and extractable NH4 + pools declined by 40, 52, and 56%, respectively, in April 2006, compared with their initial concentrations in October 2005; soil NO3– pools increased by 84%. Temporal patterns of N mineralization were correlated with soil microbial biomass C and N. N mineralization and nitrification increased linearly with added N. Microbial biomass C in treated soils increased by 10% relative to controls, whereas microbial N declined by 9%. Results further suggest that freezing events greatly alter soil N dynamics in the dormant season at this site, with considerable available N accumulating during this period.


This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: Zhang X, W Bai, FS Gilliam, X Han, and L Li. 2011. Effects of in situ freezing on soil nitrogen mineralization in fertilized grassland, northern China. Grass and Forage Science 66:391-401 which has been published in final form at Reprinted with permission.