Biogeochemical responses to nutrient, moisture and temperature manipulations of soil from Signy Island, South Orkney Islands in the Maritime Antarctic
We have investigated how the microbially-driven processes of carbon (C) mineralization (respiration) and nitrogen (N) mineralization/immobilization in a soil from the northern Maritime Antarctic respond to differences in water availability (20% and 80% water-holding capacity) and temperature (5°C and 15°C) in the presence and absence of different organic substrates (2 mg C as either glucose, glycine or tryptone soy broth (TSB) powder (a complex microbial growth medium)) in a controlled laboratory experiment over 175 days. Soil respiration and N mineralization/immobilization in the presence of a C-rich substrate (glucose) increased with increases in water and temperature. These factors were influential individually and had an additive effect when applied together. For the N-rich substrates (glycine and TSB), microbial responses to increased water or temperature alone were weak or not significant, but these factors interacted to give significantly positive increases when applied together. These data indicate that under the expected changes in environmental conditions in the Maritime Antarctic, where temperature and the availability of water and organic substrates will probably increase, soil microbial activity will lead to more rapid C and N cycling and have a positive feedback on these biogeochemical processes, particularly where or when these factors increase concurrently.