Effect of tree species and seasons on soil nitrogen transformation rates in the semi-arid forest of Delhi, India


Research Articles | Published:

Print ISSN : 0970-4078.
Online ISSN : 2229-4473.
Pub Email: contact@vegetosindia.org
Doi: 10.1007/s42535-021-00291-1
First Page: 219
Last Page: 227
Views: 879

Keywords: Soil nitrogen mineralization, Semi-arid forest, Tree species, N- transformation rates, Seasonal variation


Soil nitrogen mineralization (N min) is a very crucial component of N cycling. By far, studies have primarily shown the effect of seasons on N min. However, information on the effect of trees is primarily missing in the semi-arid forest of Delhi. We ascertained the effect of tree species and seasons on nitrogen mineralization, nitrification, and ammonification for 1 year (Dec. 2014 to Nov. 2015) by using an intact soil core (in-situ) incubation technique in 0–10 cm beneath the canopy of selected tree species. The study was carried out in a protected region in the South-Central ridge of Delhi. Our results demonstrate the effect of tree species on N-transformation rates. A noticeable seasonal variation was observed in all the processes, which were higher in monsoon and lower in winter. The rate of N min was highest under the canopy of Ficus religiosa (66.4 µg g−1 year−1) and lowest under Azadirachta indica (24.90 µg g−1 year−1). The rate of nitrification was highest under Ficus religiosa (39.90 µg g−1 year−1) and lowest under Cassia fistula (12.70 µg g−1 year−1). Similarly, the rate of ammonification was maximum under Ficus religiosa (26.6 µg g−1 year−1) and minimum under Azadirachta indica (10.7 µg g−1 year−1). Rates of N-transformation were positively correlated with soil moisture and temperature under few tree species indicating that soil properties control these processes. The higher rates of N-transformation under native tree species than the non-native ones suggest their effect on these vital ecosystem processes and regulating ecosystem function.

Soil nitrogen mineralization, Semi-arid forest, Tree species, N- transformation rates, Seasonal variation

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We are grateful to the Head, Department of Botany, University of Delhi, for providing the necessary facilities to conduct this study. We are also grateful to Late Air-Vice Marshal Vinod Rawat for cooperating and allowing to work within the forest. The authors are thankful to the laboratory staff of the Department of Botany, University of Delhi, forest authority, and their team for immense help and support throughout this research. The first author is thankful to UGC for providing a NON-NET fellowship for the entire duration of the study. The corresponding author thanks the University of Delhi for providing Research and Development Grant during 2014–15 and 2015–16 and the Institution of Eminence (IoE) for Faculty Research Programme (FRP) grant 2020-21.

Author Information

Prasad Shikha
Ecology & Ecosystem Research Laboratory, Department of Botany, University of Delhi, Delhi, India
Baishya Ratul
Ecology & Ecosystem Research Laboratory, Department of Botany, University of Delhi, Delhi, India