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1 Nutrient Cycles 1.Nutrient requirements 2.Biogeochemical cycles 3.Rates of decomposition 4.Plant adaptations in low nutrient conditions.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Nutrient Cycles 1.Nutrient requirements 2.Biogeochemical cycles 3.Rates of decomposition 4.Plant adaptations in low nutrient conditions."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Nutrient Cycles 1.Nutrient requirements 2.Biogeochemical cycles 3.Rates of decomposition 4.Plant adaptations in low nutrient conditions

2 2 Nutrient Requirements for Plant Growth Taken up in gaseous form, Oxygen (O 2 ), Carbon CO 2, and from roots - Water (H 2 O). –Derived from water and carbon dioxide Rest are taken up from soil solutions –Macro-nutrients –Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), Potassium (K), –Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Sulfur (S) –Micro-nutrients – Boron (B), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo), Zinc (Zn)

3 3 Nutrient Cycles 1.Nutrient requirements 2.Biogeochemical cycles 3.Rates of decomposition 4.Plant adaptations in low nutrient conditions

4 4 Biogeochemical Cycling The cycling of nutrients through ecosystems via food chains and food webs, including the exchange of nutrients between the biosphere and the hydrosphere, atmosphere and geosphere (e.g., soils and sediments)

5 5 Ecosystems produce and process energy primarily through the production and exchange of carbohydrates which depends on the carbon cycle. Once energy is used, it is lost to the ecosystem through generation of heat Carbon is passed through the food chain through herbivory, predation, and decomposition, it is eventually lost to the atmosphere through decomposition in the form of CO 2 and CH 4. It is then re-introduced into the ecosystem via photosynthesis. However, the amount of carbon present in a system is not only related to the amount of primary production, as well herbivory and predation (e.g., secondary production), it is also driven by the rates of decomposition by micro- organisms Atmospheric carbon is rarely limiting to plant growth

6 6 When we look at other nutrients, a somewhat different picture emerges than with the energy cycle – e.g., phosphorous in a food chain within a small pond. Algae remove dissolved phosphorous from the water The phosphorous is then passed through different trophic levels through herbivory and predation. At each level there is some mortality, and then the phosphorous is passed to decomposers These organisms release phosphorous into the water where it is again taken up by primary producers and the whole cycle starts up again

7 7 Key Elements of Biogeochemical Cycles a.Where do the nutrients that ecosystems use come from? b.What happens to the nutrients within the ecosystem itself? c.What happens to the nutrients once they leave the ecosystem? d.Once nutrients are cycled through an ecosystem, how do they get back? e.What are the rates of exchange of nutrients between the different pools?

8 8 Nutrient Pools and Nutrient Flux Nutrient pool – a specific component or compartment where a nutrient resides –Can be a single organism, a population, a community, a trophic level, and an abiotic feature (e.g., lake, soil, atmosphere, etc.) Nutrient flux – the rate of exchange (e.g., unit of material per unit time) of nutrients between pools

9 9 Example of changes in the amounts of tracer phosphorous being exchanged within an aquatic food web The values themselves represent changes in the pool levels, where each one of the lines represents a different pool Understanding the feeding relationship allows us to build a nutrient cycle model for this ecosystem

10 10 Model of phosphorous cycle for an aquatic ecosystem – flux rates per day shown. 1.This system is not closed – inputs, probably from run-off from land. 2.Exports include herbivores moving outside of system and dead plant/animal material moving out of system, probably through sedimentation. 3.Rate of uptake by plants is directly proportional to net primary production. 4.Exchange of nutrients by higher trophic levels is controlled by processes regulating secondary production. 5.Rates of inputs and outputs of nutrients from an ecosystem are driven by both biotic and abiotic factors.

11 11 Types of Biogeochemical Cycles Three major categories of biogeochemical cycles based on slowest-changing pool(=reservoir): 1.Gaseous cycles of C, O, H Gaseous cycle of N, (S) 3.Sedimentary cycles of the remaining nutrients Global scale Local scale

12 12 Sedimentary Cycles Gaseous Cycles

13 13 Major Components of Nitrogen Cycle

14 14 Biological Nitrogen Fixers Cyanobacteria – blue-green algae Free living soil bacteria Mycorrhizae –Symbiotic bacteria living in root nodules

15 15 Root nodules on ? Cassia fasciculata

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19 19 NO from lightning Lightning + N 2 + O 2 NO + O 2 Nitrate (NO 3 )

20 20 Phosphorous Cycle Phosphate – PO 4 -3

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22 22 Potassium

23 23 Sources of Nutrients Parent Material Atmosphere Run-off, Ground water Floods

24 24 Nutrient Cycles 1.Nutrient requirements 2.Biogeochemical cycles 3.Rates of decomposition 4.Plant adaptations in low nutrient conditions

25 25 Simple Model of Soil Decomposition/ microbial respiration Microbial Population Litter Organic Soil H 2 O, O 2 Energy Nutrients CO 2 or CH 4 Dissolved Nutrients

26 26 Factors Controlling Microbial Respiration 1.Availability of oxygen CO 2 versus CH 4 production 2.Temperature 3.Moisture 4.Quality of material comprising dead organic matter

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31 31 Simple Model of Simple Model of Soil Decomposition/ microbial respiration Microbial Population Litter Organic Soil H 2 O, O 2 Energy Nutrients CO 2 or CH 4 Dissolved Nutrients

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33 33 k is the fraction of a material that decomposes in a given year Decomposition as a Function of Lignin Content

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35 35 Residence Time Residence time is the length of time it takes for biomass or a nutrient to be completely decomposed or recycled from the forest floor

36 36 Residence times Coniferous forests have longer residence times than deciduous C/N control Boreal forests have longer residence times than temperate forests temperature control

37 37 Nutrient Cycles 1.Nutrient requirements 2.Biogeochemical cycles 3.Rates of decomposition 4.Plant adaptations in low nutrient conditions

38 38 Tree Nutrient Content % N% P% K Temperate Conifers Temperate Deciduous Eucalyptus

39 39 Translocation of Nutrients Prior to shedding leaves in the fall, translocation of nutrients often takes place in trees This allows tree to retain essential nutrients that are hard to come by Spruce trees remove more nutrients than other coniferous trees An adaptation to poor nutrient sites

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41 41 Question – do plants growing on sites with low soil nutrients have low nutrient contents as well? The answer is no – Plants on sites with low nutrients tend to have higher nutrient contents They have a higher nutrient use efficiency

42 42 Nutrient Use Efficiency (NUE) Some plants are more efficient at using nutrients because it gives them selective advantages in low nutrient conditions NUE = A / L A – the nutrient productivity (dry matter production per unit nutrient in the plant) L – nutrient requirements per unit of plant biomass

43 43 A common pattern found in ecosystem productivity is saturation curve. Productivity increases linearly with N availability, up to a certain point, when other resources become limiting (e.g., light, water, temperature, other nutrients)

44 44 Three types of relationships with respect to limitations of nutrients: A.Production is independent of resource availability B.Production is a linear function of resource availability C.At some point, another resource becomes limiting

45 45 Factors Influencing Nutrient Availability Presence of nitrogen fixers Microbial activity Fire Precipitation patterns Soil drainage Soil temperature, moisture

46 46 Fire H 2 O - PrecipitationCO 2 Organic soil Upper mineral soil Lower mineral soil Leaching, run off Through-fall nutrients Litterfall Internal translocation Dissolved nutrients GHG N fixers Energy, Nutrients Microbes Nutrients CH 4, CO 2 N 2, O 2 Photosynthesis Aeolian, Atmospheric Deposition

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48 48 Forest Type Living Biomass Pool Primary Production Rates Soil Carbon/ Nutrient Pool Decomposition Rates TropicalHighest LowestHighest TemperateMiddle BorealLowest HighestLowest Boreal forest has the largest available nutrient pool in soil, but lowest rates of production, where as tropical forest has lowest soil pool, and highest production.

49 49 Role of Disturbances in Nutrient Cycling Type of disturbance important –Fire versus logging versus large-scale mortality Disturbances directly alter biotic and abiotic controls on nutrient cycling –Rates of primary production –Controls on evapotranspiration –Influences on surface runoff –Soil temperature/moisture decomposition rates Linkages between terrestrial/aquatic systems

50 50 Hubbard Brook watershed, upstate New Hampshire.

51 51 Nutrient Cycles 1.Nutrient requirements 2.Biogeochemical cycles 3.Rates of decomposition 4.Plant adaptations in low nutrient conditions

52 52 Upland White Spruce Succession

53 53 Nutrient Cycling in Upland White Spruce


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