Data from: Nitrogen addition reduces soil respiration but increases the relative contribution of heterotrophic component in an alpine meadow
Wang, Jinsong et al. (2019), Data from: Nitrogen addition reduces soil respiration but increases the relative contribution of heterotrophic component in an alpine meadow, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4b526hv
1. Disentangling the relative response sensitivity of soil autotrophic (Ra) and heterotrophic respiration (Rh) to nitrogen (N) enrichment is pivotal for evaluating soil carbon (C) storage and stability in the scenario of intensified N deposition. However, the mechanisms underlying differential sensitivities of Ra and Rh and relative contribution of Rh to soil respiration (Rs) with increasing N deposition remains elusive. 2. A manipulative field experiment with multi‐level N addition rates was conducted over three years (2015–2017) in an alpine meadow to explore the relative impact of N enrichment on Ra and Rh and the response of Rh/Rs ratio to the gradient of N addition. 3. Soil respiration components had different sensitivities to N enrichment, with Ra decreasing more than Rh, leading to a higher Rh/Rs ratio as a function of increasing N addition rates. Ra and Rh decreased nonlinearly as N addition rates increased, with a critical load of 8 g N m−2 yr−1 above which N enrichment significantly inhibited them. Ra and Rh were controlled by different abiotic and biotic factors and the regulation of controlling factors on soil respiration components varied over time. N induced reduction in the relative abundance of forb significantly affected Ra and this effect was mainly evident in the second and third year. Nitrogen enrichment significantly changed Rh in the third year and the decreased Rh under high doses of N addition could be attributed to the changes in microbial biomass C, soil substrate quality, and microbial composition. 4. Our study highlights the leading role of Ra in regulating Rs responses to N enrichment and the enhancement of Rh/Rs ratio with increasing N addition. We also emphasize that N induced shifts in plant community composition play a vital role in regulating Ra instead of Rh. The changing drivers of Ra and Rh with time suggests that long‐term experiments with multiple levels of N addition are further needed to test the nonlinear responses and underlying mechanisms of soil respiration components in face to aggravating N deposition.