Modeling the Temperature Response of Nitrification

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To model nitrification rates in soils, it is necessary to have equations that accurately describe the effect of environmental variables on nitrification rates. A variety of equations have been used previously to describe the effect of temperature on rates of microbial processes. It is not clear which of these best describes the influence of temperature on nitrification rates in soil. I compared five equations for describing the effects of temperature on nitrification in two soils with very different temperature optima from a California oak woodland-annual grassland. The most appropriate equation depended on the range of temperatures being evaluated. A generalized Poisson density function best described temperature effects on nitrification rates in both soils over the range of 5 to 50 °C; however, the Arrhenius equation best described temperature effects over the narrower range of soil temperatures that normally occurs in the ecosystem (5 to 28 °C). Temperature optima for nitrification in most of the soils were greater than even the highest soil temperatures recorded at the sites. A model accounting for increased maintenance energy requirements at higher temperatures demonstrates how net energy production, rather than the gross energy production from nitrification, is maximized during adaptation by nitrifier populations to soil temperatures.

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