Global Patterns and Controls of Nutrient Immobilization on Decomposing Cellulose in Riverine Ecosystems

Costello, David M. and Tiegs, Scott D. and Boyero, Luz and Canhoto, Cristina and Capps, Krista A. and Danger, Michael and Frost, Paul C. and Gessner, Mark O. and Griffiths, Natalie A. and Halvorson, Halvor M. and Kuehn, Kevin A. and Marcarelli, Amy M. and Royer, Todd V. and Mathie, Devan M. and Albariño, Ricardo J. and Arango, Clay P. and Aroviita, Jukka and Baxter, Colden V. and Bellinger, Brent J. and Bruder, Andreas and Burdon, Francis J. and Callisto, Marcos and Camacho, Antonio and Colas, Fanny and Cornut, Julien and Crespo‐Pérez, Verónica and Cross, Wyatt F. and Derry, Alison M. and Douglas, Michael M. and Elosegi, Arturo and Eyto, Elvira and Ferreira, Verónica and Ferriol, Carmen and Fleituch, Tadeusz and Follstad Shah, Jennifer J. and Frainer, André and Garcia, Erica A. and García, Liliana and García, Pavel E. and Giling, Darren P. and Gonzales‐Pomar, R. Karina and Graça, Manuel A. S. and Grossart, Hans‐Peter and Guérold, François and Hepp, Luiz U. and Higgins, Scott N. and Hishi, Takuo and Iñiguez‐Armijos, Carlos and Iwata, Tomoya and Kirkwood, Andrea E. and Koning, Aaron A. and Kosten, Sarian and Laudon, Hjalmar and Leavitt, Peter R. and Lemes da Silva, Aurea L. and Leroux, Shawn J. and LeRoy, Carri J. and Lisi, Peter J. and Masese, Frank O. and McIntyre, Peter B. and McKie, Brendan G. and Medeiros, Adriana O. and Miliša, Marko and Miyake, Yo and Mooney, Robert J. and Muotka, Timo and Nimptsch, Jorge and Paavola, Riku and Pardo, Isabel and Parnikoza, Ivan Y. and Patrick, Christopher J. and Peeters, Edwin T. H. M. and Pozo, Jesus and Reid, Brian and Richardson, John S. and Rincón, José and Risnoveanu, Geta and Robinson, Christopher T. and Santamans, Anna C. and Simiyu, Gelas M. and Skuja, Agnija and Smykla, Jerzy and Sponseller, Ryan A. and Teixeira‐de Mello, Franco and Vilbaste, Sirje and Villanueva, Verónica D. and Webster, Jackson R. and Woelfl, Stefan and Xenopoulos, Marguerite A. and Yates, Adam G. and Yule, Catherine M. and Zhang, Yixin and Zwart, Jacob A. (2022) Global Patterns and Controls of Nutrient Immobilization on Decomposing Cellulose in Riverine Ecosystems. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 36 (3). ISSN 0886-6236

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Microbes play a critical role in plant litter decomposition and influence the fate of carbon in rivers and riparian zones. When decomposing low-nutrient plant litter, microbes acquire nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) from the environment (i.e., nutrient immobilization), and this process is potentially sensitive to nutrient loading and changing climate. Nonetheless, environmental controls on immobilization are poorly understood because rates are also influenced by plant litter chemistry, which is coupled to the same environmental factors. Here we used a standardized, low-nutrient organic matter substrate (cotton strips) to quantify nutrient immobilization at 100 paired stream and riparian sites representing 11 biomes worldwide. Immobilization rates varied by three orders of magnitude, were greater in rivers than riparian zones, and were strongly correlated to decomposition rates. In rivers, P immobilization rates were controlled by surface water phosphate concentrations, but N immobilization rates were not related to inorganic N. The N:P of immobilized nutrients was tightly constrained to a molar ratio of 10:1 despite wide variation in surface water N:P. Immobilization rates were temperature-dependent in riparian zones but not related to temperature in rivers. However, in rivers nutrient supply ultimately controlled whether microbes could achieve the maximum expected decomposition rate at a given temperature. Collectively, we demonstrated that exogenous nutrient supply and immobilization are critical control points for decomposition of organic matter.

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