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We studied temporal and spatial patterns of soil nitrogen (N) dynamics from 1993 to 1995 in three watersheds of Fernow Experimental Forest, W.V.: WS7 (24-year-old, untreated); WS4 (mature, untreated); and WS3 (24-year-old, treated with (NH4)2SO since 1989 at the rate of 35 kg Nha–1year–1). Net nitrification was 141, 114, and115 kg Nha–1year–1, for WS3, WS4, and WS7, respectively, essentially 100% of net N mineralization for all watersheds. Temporal (seasonal) patterns of nitrification were significantly related to soil moisture and ambient temperaturein untreated watersheds only. Spatial patterns of soil water NO3–of WS4 suggest that microenvironmental variabilitylimits rates of N processing in some areas of this N-saturated watershed, in part by ericaceous species in the herbaceous layer. Spatial patterns of soil water NO3–in treated WS3 suggest that later stages of N saturation may result inhigher concentrations with less spatial variability. Spatial variability in soil N variables was lower in treated WS3 versus untreated watersheds. Nitrogen additions have altered the response of N-processing microbes to environmental factors, becoming less sensitive to seasonal changes in soil moisture and temperature. Biotic processes responsible forregulating N dynamics may be compromised in N-saturated forest ecosystems.


This article first appeared in 2001, Gilliam FS, BM Yurish, and MB Adams. Temporal and spatial variation of nitrogen transformations in nitrogen-saturated soils of a Central Appalachian hardwood forest. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 31:1768-1785. and is reprinted with permission. The final publication is available at