Interactive Effects Between Reindeer and Habitat Fertility Drive Soil Nutrient Availabilities in Arctic Tundra - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Ecosystems Year : 2017

Interactive Effects Between Reindeer and Habitat Fertility Drive Soil Nutrient Availabilities in Arctic Tundra

Abstract

Herbivores impact nutrient availability and cycling, and the net effect of herbivory on soil nutrients is generally assumed to be positive in nutrient-rich environments and negative in nutrient-poor ones. This is, however, far from a uniform pattern, and there is a recognized need to investigate any interactive effects of herbivory and habitat fertility (i.e., plant C/N ratios) on soil nutrient availabilities. We determined long-term effects of reindeer on soil extractable nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) and their net mineralization rates along a fertility gradient of plant carbon (C) to N and P ratios in arctic tundra. Our results showed that reindeer had a positive effect on soil N in the more nutrient-poor sites and a negative effect on soil P in the more nutrient-rich sites, which contrasts from the general consensus. The increase in N availability was linked to a decrease in plant and litter C/N ratios, suggesting that a shift in vegetation composition toward more graminoids favors higher N cycling. Soil P availability was not as closely linked to the vegetation and is likely regulated more by herbivore-induced changes in soil physical and chemical properties. The changes in soil extractable N and P resulted in higher soil N/P ratios, suggesting that reindeer could drive the vegetation toward P-limitation. This research highlights the importance of including both the elements N and P and conducting studies along environmental gradients in order to better understand the interactive effects of herbivory and habitat fertility on nutrient cycling and primary production.

Dates and versions

hal-03699435 , version 1 (20-06-2022)

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Judith Sitters, Mariska Te Beest, Mehdi Cherif, Reiner Giesler, Johan Olofsson. Interactive Effects Between Reindeer and Habitat Fertility Drive Soil Nutrient Availabilities in Arctic Tundra. Ecosystems, 2017, 20 (7), pp.1266-1277. ⟨10.1007/s10021-017-0108-1⟩. ⟨hal-03699435⟩

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