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Past studies of plant?microbe interactions in the alpine nitrogen cycle have revealed a seasonal separation of N use, with plants absorbing N primarily during the summer months and microbes immobilizing N primarily during the autumn months. On the basis of these studies, it has been concluded that competition for N between plants and microbes is minimized along this seasonal gradient. In this study, we examined more deeply the links between microbial population dynamics and plant N availability in an alpine dry meadow. We conducted a year-round ?eld study and per formed experiments on isolated soil microorganisms. Based on previous work in this ecosystem, we hypothesized that microbial biomass would decline before...