Nitrogen addition stimulated soil respiration more so than carbon addition in alpine meadows

Mei Huang, Xiaopeng Chen, A. Allan Degen, Ruiying Guo, Tao Zhang, Binyu Luo, Haiyan Li, Jingxue Zhao, Zhanhuan Shang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) availability are important in the regulation of soil C cycling under climate change. Fertilizers alter soil C and N availability, which can affect C balance. However, the impact of fertilizers on C balance in grassland restoration has been equivocal and warrants more research. We determined the direct and indirect effects of the addition of three levels of C (sucrose) (0, 60, and 120 kg C ha−1 yr−1), three levels of N (urea) (0, 50, and 100 kg N ha−1 yr−1), and a combination of C plus N at each of the levels on soil respiration (Rs) dynamics and C balance in an alpine meadow in northern Tibet (4700 m above sea level). This study was undertaken during the middle of the growing season in 2011–2012. The addition of C and/or N stimulated CO2 emission, which was 2-fold greater in 2011 (102–144 g C m−2) than in 2012 (43–54 g C m−2). The rate of Rs increased with the addition of N, but was not affected with the addition of C plus N. Microbial biomass C, dissolved organic C and inorganic N were the main drivers of Rs. We concluded that N addition stimulated Rs to a greater extent than C addition in the short term. The application of fertilizer in the restoration of degraded grassland should be re-considered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116501
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2023


  • Carbon availability
  • Carbon balance
  • CO emission
  • Fertilizer
  • Nitrogen availability
  • Northern Tibet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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