Spatial variation in soil inorganic nitrogen across an arid urban ecosystem

Diane Hope, Weixing Zhu, Corinna Gries, Jacob Oleson, Jason Kaye, Nancy B. Grimm, Lawrence A. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


We explored variations in inorganic soil nitrogen (N) concentrations across metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, and the surrounding desert using a probability-based synoptic survey. Data were examined using spatial statistics on the entire region, as well as for the desert and urban sites separately. Concentrations of both NO 3-N and NH 4-N were markedly higher and more heterogeneous amongst urban compared to desert soils. Regional variation in soil NO 3-N concentration was best explained by latitude, land use history, population density, along with percent cover of impervious surfaces and lawn, whereas soil NH 4-N concentrations were related to only latitude and population density. Within the urban area, patterns in both soil NO 3-N and NH 4-N were best predicted by elevation, population density and type of irrigation in the surrounding neighborhood. Spatial autocorrelation of soil NO 3-N concentrations explained 49% of variation among desert sites but was absent between urban sites. We suggest that inorganic soil N concentrations are controlled by a number of 'local' or 'neighborhood' human-related drivers in the city, rather than factors related to an urban-rural gradient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-273
Number of pages23
JournalUrban Ecosystems
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Urban Studies


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