Data from: Nitrogen cycling and export in California chaparral: the role of climate in shaping ecosystem responses to fire
Hanan, Erin J.; Tague, Christina Naomi; Schimel, Joshua P. (2016), Data from: Nitrogen cycling and export in California chaparral: the role of climate in shaping ecosystem responses to fire, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5242j
Climate change models predict that interannual rainfall variability will increase in California over the next several decades; these changes will likely influence how frequently California ecosystems burn and how they respond to fire. Fires uncouple N mobilization from uptake by destroying plant biomass and increasing nitrification. Following fire, autumn and winter rains can leach N into streams from slopes that have been denuded. The amount of N exported depends on how rapidly soil microbes metabolize it into mobile forms such as NO3-, and the rate that recovering plants take up available N. However, the long-term effects of a changing climate on postfire N dynamics remain unknown. We used the ecohydrologic model RHESSys (regional hydro-ecologic simulation system) to evaluate how interannual climate variability may affect the magnitude of N mineralization, nitrification, N export, and plant recovery following fire. N export was highest when fire was followed by drought; even though there was less water moving through the system, dry conditions prolonged the period during which N mobilization was decoupled from plant uptake. We also found that the effects of drought on N export were magnified in stands dominated by obligate seeders, which initially recovered more slowly than resprouters. These findings suggest that climate may regulate N balance most powerfully by influencing how quickly plants “turn on” and begin to immobilize N.
National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-0952599