Anthropogenic effects on global soil nitrogen pools

Shih Chieh Chien, Jennifer Adams Krumins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The amount of nitrogen stored in terrestrial soils, its “nitrogen pool”, moderates biogeochemical cycling affecting primary productivity, nitrogen pollution and even carbon budgets. The soil nitrogen pools and the transformation of nitrogen forms within them are heavily influenced by environmental factors including anthropogenic activities. However, our understanding of the global distribution of soil nitrogen with respect to anthropogenic activity and human land use remains unclear. We constructed a meta-analysis from a global sampling, in which we compare soil total nitrogen pools and the driving mechanisms affecting each pool across three major classifications of human land use: natural, agricultural, and urban. Although the size of the nitrogen pool can be similar across natural, agricultural and urban soils, the ecological and human associated drivers vary. Specifically, the drivers within agricultural and urban soils as opposed to natural soils are more complex and often decoupled from climatic and soil factors. This suggests that the nitrogen pools of those soils may be co-moderated by other factors not included in our analyses, like human activities. Our analysis supports the notion that agricultural soils act as a nitrogen source while urban soils as a nitrogen sink and informs a modern understanding of the fates and distributions of anthropogenic nitrogen in natural, agricultural, and urban soils.

Original languageEnglish
Article number166238
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • Agricultural system
  • Global change
  • Nitrogen cycling
  • Soil
  • Urban system


Dive into the research topics of 'Anthropogenic effects on global soil nitrogen pools'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this