University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006
Below-ground processes in meadow soil under elevated ozone and carbon dioxide
- Greenhouse gas fluxes, N cycling and microbial communities
Doctoral dissertation, June 2006.
This thesis focuses on how elevated CO2 and/or O3 affect the below-ground processes in semi-natural vegetation, with an emphasis on greenhouse gases, N cycling and microbial communities. Meadow mesocosms mimicking lowland hay meadows in Jokioinen, SW Finland, were enclosed in open-top chambers and exposed to ambient and elevated levels of O3 (40-50 ppb) and/or CO2 (+100 ppm) for three consecutive growing season, while chamberless plots were used as chamber controls. Chemical and microbiological analyses as well as laboratory incubations of the mesocosm soils under different treatments were used to study the effects of O3 and/or CO2. Artificially constructed mesocosms were also compared with natural meadows with regards to GHG fluxes and soil characteristics. In addition to research conducted at the ecosystem level (i.e. the mesocosm study), soil microbial communities were also examined in a pot experiment with monocultures of individual species.
By comparing mesocosms with similar natural plant assemblage, it was possible to demonstrate that artificial mesocosms simulated natural habitats, even though some differences were found in the CH4 oxidation rate, soil mineral N, and total C and N concentrations in the soil. After three growing seasons of fumigations, the fluxes of N2O, CH4, and CO2 were decreased in the NF+O3 treatment, and the soil NH4+-N and mineral N concentrations were lower in the NF+O3 treatment than in the NF control treatment. The mesocosm soil microbial communities were affected negatively by the NF+O3 treatment, as the total, bacterial, actinobacterial, and fungal PLFA biomasses as well as the fungal:bacterial biomass ratio decreased under elevated O3. In the pot survey, O3 decreased the total, bacterial, actinobacterial, and mycorrhizal PLFA biomasses in the bulk soil and affected the microbial community structure in the rhizosphere of L. pratensis, whereas the bulk soil and rhizosphere of the other monoculture, A. capillaris, remained unaffected by O3. Elevated CO2 caused only minor and insignificant changes in the GHG fluxes, N cycling, and the microbial community structure.
In the present study, the below-ground processes were modified after three years of moderate O3 enhancement. A tentative conclusion is that a decrease in N availability may have feedback effects on plant growth and competition and affect the N cycling of the whole meadow ecosystem. Ecosystem level changes occur slowly, and multiplication of the responses might be expected in the long run.
This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for Your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.
© University of Helsinki 2006
Last updated 19.05.2006