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Effects of sulfuric, nitric, and mixed acid rain on litter decomposition, soil microbial biomass, and enzyme activities in subtropical forests of China

Authors
  • Lv, Yanna
  • Wang, Congyan
  • Jia, Yanyan
  • Wang, Wenwen
  • Ma, Xu
  • Du, Jingjing
  • Pu, Gaozhong
  • Tian, Xingjun1, 2, 3
  • 1 School of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences, Weifang Medical University
  • 2 School of Life Sciences, Nanjing University
  • 3 School of the Environment and Safety Engineering, Jiangsu University
Type
Published Article
Journal
Applied Soil Ecology
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2014
Accepted Date
Dec 03, 2013
Volume
79
Pages
1–9
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.apsoil.2013.12.002
Source
Elsevier
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Acid rain pollution is changing gradually from sulfuric acid rain (SAR) to mixed acid rain (MAR) and then to nitric acid rain (NAR) with the rapidly growing number of motor vehicles. The influences of changed acid rain types on ecosystem functions, particularly on litter decomposition, remain unclear. Two dominant litter types from a coniferous forest and a broad-leaved forest were incubated in microcosms with original forest soils and treated by five types of acid rain with different SO42− to NO3− ratios (1:0, 5:1, 1:1, 1:5, and 0:1). During a six-month incubation period, litter mass losses, soil microbial biomass, and enzyme activities were investigated. Results showed that various acid treatments inhibited litter decomposition, soil microbial biomass, and most enzyme activities, and the inhibitory effects of NAR were more significant than those of SAR and MAR. The resistance to external acid of microbial communities in broad-leaved forest was higher than that in coniferous forest. NAR and MAR treatments slowed down soil carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) mineralization by attenuating the correlations between litter mass losses and the enzymes involved in C, N, and P cycling. Results reveal that the ratio of SO42− to NO3− in acid rain is an important factor which profoundly influences litter decomposition process. In the future, a decreasing ratio of SO42− to NO3− in acid rain will be observed in subtropical forests. Thus, soil C would accumulate as a consequence of future acid precipitation, and this may seriously affect the balance of ecosystem C, N flux.

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