Temperate terrestrial ecosystems are currently exposed to increased atmospheric CO2 and progressive climatic changes with increased temperature and periodical drought. We here present results from a field experiment, where the effects of these three main climate change related factors are investigated solely and in all combinations at a temperate heathland. Significant responses were found in the top soils below the two dominant species (Calluna vulgaris and Deschampsia flexuosa). During winter incubation, microbial immobilization of N and ammonification rate decreased in response to warming in Deschampsia soil, and microbial immobilization of N and P decreased in warmed Calluna soil. Warming tended to increase microbial N and P in Calluna but not in Deschampsia soil in fall, and more microbial C was accumulated under drought in Calluna soil. The effects of warming were often counteracted or erased when combined with CO2 and drought. Below Deschampsia, the net nitrification rate decreased in response to drought and, while phosphorus availability and microbial P immobilization decreased, but nitrification increased in response to elevated CO2. Furthermore, leaf litter decomposition of both species decreased in response to drought. These complex changes in availability and release of nutrients from soil organic matter turnover and mineralization in response to elevated CO2 and climate change may influence the future plant carbon sequestration and species composition at temperate heathlands.
- Bio systems
- Environment and climate