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dc.contributor.authorEdwards, Kate A.
dc.identifier.citationThesis (Ph.D.)--University of Toronto, 2010.
dc.description.abstractMicrobial activity occurs year-round in Arctic soils, including during the winter when soils are frozen. From 2004 to 2008 I monitored soil microbial and nutrient dynamics in low Arctic wet and dry sedge meadows near Churchill, Manitoba. I documented a consistent annual pattern in which soil microbial biomass (MB) and soil nutrients peak in late winter, and decrease during the early stages of spring thaw, remaining in low abundance during the summer. Based on a series of experiments, resource shortages do not appear to be the cause of the microbial decline, as has been hypothesized. Observations and theoretical considerations regarding soil physical properties indicate that this decrease is driven by the influx of liquid water at thaw that brings about a rapid change in the chemical potential of water, leading to cell lysis. I have used 15N isotope tracing to show that inorganic nitrogen is taken up very quickly at thaw by the roots of the dominant plant, Carex aquatilis. This represents a critical window of opportunity for these plants, as nitrogen remains abundant only for a short time. The described annual pattern was pronounced in wet sedge sites, but some inter-annual variation is evident, for example a post-thaw soil nitrogen pulse in 2006, and low winter MB in 2008. In the dry sedge meadow, fluctuations in MB and nutrients were dampened relative to wet sites, and the annual pattern was variable, particularly after 2006. Over four years, peak winter values of soil MB and nutrient variables declined in both wet and dry sites, and this could be related to a drying trend. This work improves our understanding of the controls on decomposition and primary productivity in a system that is experiencing climate warming and increased precipitation. Changes to hydrology, carbon and nitrogen cycling, and primary productivity will have further effects on vegetation communities and higher trophic levels, including several species of migratory birds.en_US
dc.publisherToronto : University of Toronto
dc.subjectEdwards, Kate A.
dc.subjectArctic soils
dc.subjectCarex aquatilis
dc.subjectsoil microbial dynamics
dc.subjectnutrient dynamics
dc.titleSoil Microbial and Nutrient Dynamics During Late Winter and Early Spring in Low Arctic Sedge Meadows

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