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Ecology of the Shortgrass SteppeA Long-Term Perspective$
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W. K. Lauenroth and I. C. Burke

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195135824

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195135824.001.0001

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Soil Organic Matter and Nutrient Dynamics of Shortgrass Steppe Ecosystems

Soil Organic Matter and Nutrient Dynamics of Shortgrass Steppe Ecosystems

(p.306) 13 Soil Organic Matter and Nutrient Dynamics of Shortgrass Steppe Ecosystems
Ecology of the Shortgrass Steppe

Ingrid C. Burke

Arvin R. Mosier

Oxford University Press

Since the days of the IBP, there has been a strong emphasis on research about the biogeochemistry of shortgrass steppe ecosystems (e.g., Clark, 1977; Woodmansee, 1978). A major theme has been seeking to understand spatial and temporal patterns and controls of biogeochemical pools and fluxes at scales that span from several centimeters to hundreds of kilometers, and from hours to millennia. The synthesis of this work has resulted in a conceptual framework regarding the biogeochemical dynamics of the shortgrass steppe, with two key components:… 1. Spatial and temporal patterns are controlled by five 1. major factors: climate, physiography, natural disturbance, human use, and biotic interactions. Plants are the most important biotic component. The interaction of these factors as they change in time and space determines the distribution and size of biogeochemical pools and the rates of biogeochemical processes. 2. Carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and other associated biologically active elements are overwhelmingly located belowground, with more than 90% found in soils (Burke et al., 1997a). This distribution determines the biogeochemical sensitivity of the shortgrass steppe to perturbations…. These ideas have been synthesized in the development of the CENTURY ecosystem simulation model, originally developed for grasslands and agroecosystems in the shortgrass steppe region of the western Great Plains (Parton et al., 1987, and chapter 15, this volume). The model represents complex interactions among the five controlling factors to simulate C and N cycling, and has served as an organizing framework for developing hypotheses and for evaluating questions that are dif. cult to address in the field (Parton et al., chapter 15, this volume). The objectives of this chapter are to describe how nutrient pools and fluxes are distributed in the shortgrass steppe, to characterize how the five controlling factors interact to create spatial and temporal patterns, and to evaluate the potential future changes to which the biogeochemistry of the shortgrass steppe may be particularly vulnerable.

Keywords:   Ammonia, Carbon cycling, Decomposition, Erosion, Microtopography, Nitrate, Particulate organic matter, Resource islands, Soil organic carbon, Ultraviolet radiation

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