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Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-48345

Attard, E; Recous, S; Chabbi, A; De Berranger, C; Guillaumaud, N; Labreuche, J; Philippot, L; Schmid, B; Le Roux, X (2011). Soil environmental conditions rather than denitrifier abundance and diversity drive potential denitrification after changes in land uses. Global Change Biology, 17(5):1975-1989.

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Land-use practices aiming at increasing agro-ecosystem sustainability, e.g. no-till systems and use of temporary
grasslands, have been developed in cropping areas, but their environmental benefits could be counterbalanced by
increased N2O emissions produced, in particular during denitrification. Modelling denitrification in this context is thus of major importance. However, to what extent can changes in denitrification be predicted by representing the
denitrifying community as a black box, i.e. without an adequate representation of the biological characteristics
(abundance and composition) of this community, remains unclear. We analysed the effect of changes in land uses on
denitrifiers for two different agricultural systems: (i) crop/grassland conversion and (ii) cessation/application of
tillage. We surveyed potential denitrification (PD), the abundance and genetic structure of denitrifiers (nitrite
reducers), and soil environmental conditions. N2O emissions were also measured during periods of several days on control plots. Time-integrated N2O emissions and PD were well correlated among all control plots. Changes in PD
were partly due to changes in denitrifier abundance but were not related to changes in the structure of the denitrifier community. Using multiple regression analysis, we showed that changes in PD were more related to changes in soil environmental conditions than in denitrifier abundance. Soil organic carbon explained 81% of the variance observed for PD at the crop/temporary grassland site, whereas soil organic carbon, water-filled pore space and nitrate explained 92% of PD variance at the till/no-till site, without any residual effect of denitrifier abundance. Soil environmental conditions influenced PD by modifying the specific activity of denitrifiers, and to a lesser extent by promoting a build-up of denitrifiers. Our results show that an accurate simulation of carbon, oxygen and nitrate availability to denitrifiers is more important than an accurate simulation of denitrifier abundance and community structure to adequately understand and predict changes in PD in response to land-use changes.


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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:biodiversity, land-use change, N2O emissions, no tillage, soil C and N dynamics, soil microbial ecology, soil organic carbon, temporary grasslan
Deposited On:09 Jun 2011 12:38
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:56
Publisher DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02340.x

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