- Soil moisture strongly affects the balance between nitrification, denitrification and N2O reduction and therefore the nitrogen (N) efficiency and N losses in agricultural systems. In rice systems, there is a need to improve alternative water management practices, which are designed to save water and reduce methane emissions but may increase N2O and decrease nitrogen use efficiency. In a field experiment with three water management treatments, we measured N2O isotope ratios of emitted and pore air N2O (delta N-15, delta O-18 and site preference, SP) over the course of 6 weeks in the early rice growing season. Isotope ratio measurements were coupled with simultaneous measurements of pore water NO3-, NH4+, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), water-filled pore space (WFPS) and soil redox potential (Eh) at three soil depths. We then used the relationship between SP x delta O-18-N2O and SP x delta N-15-N2O in simple two end-member mixing models to evaluate the contribution of nitrification, denitrification and fungal denitrification to total N2O emissions and to estimate N2O reduction rates. N2O emissions were higher in a dry-seeded+alternate wetting and drying (DS-AWD) treatment relative to water-seeded+alternate wetting and drying (WS-AWD) and water-seeded+conventional flooding (WS-FLD) treatments. In the DS-AWD treatment the highest emissions were associated with a high contribution from denitrification and a decrease in N2O reduction, while in the WS treatments, the highest emissions occurred when contributions from denitrification/nitrifier denitrification and nitrification/fungal denitrification were more equal. Modeled denitrification rates appeared to be tightly linked to nitrification and NO3- availability in all treatments; thus, water management affected the rate of denitrification and N2O reduction by controlling the substrate availability for each process (NO3- and N2O), likely through changes in mineralization and nitrification rates. Our model estimates of mean N2O reduction rates match well those observed in N-15 fertilizer labeling studies in rice systems and show promise for the use of dual isotope ratio mixing models to estimate N-2 losses.