Urbanization effects on soil nitrogen transformations and microbial biomass in the subtropics
As urbanization can involve multiple alterations to the soil environment, it is uncertain how urbanization effects soil nitrogen cycling. We established 22–0.04 ha plots in six different land cover types—rural slash pine (Pinus elliottii) plantations (n=3), rural natural pine forests (n=3), rural natural oak forests (n=4), urban pine forests (n=3), urban oak forests (n=4) and urban lawns (n=5) to investigate how net soil nitrogen mineralization rates and soil microbial biomass differed between urban forests and rural forests and between urban forests and urban lawns in the Florida panhandle. Urban forest sites have 2.5 times as much net total nitrogen mineralized than rural forest sites based on the mean daily rates averaged over the 2 years study (2010–2012). Urbanization may increase soil microbial biomass and activity (potential carbon mineralization rates) and this may be influencing the soil nitrogen mineralization rates in the forest sites. To include an urban lawn (turfgrass) component in the study, one time measurements of soils from the aforementioned forest sites and from urban lawn sites (no fertilization, no irrigation) were collected in 2012. Urban forest sites and urban lawns sites do not differ in their potential carbon mineralization rates, potential net total nitrogen mineralization rates or microbial biomass carbon and nitrogen contents. However, lawns have a higher potential net nitrification rate compared to urban forests.