Does canopy nitrogen uptake enhance carbon sequestration by trees?

Nair, Richard K.F., Perks, Mike P., Weatherall, Andrew ORCID logo ORCID: , Baggs, Elizabeth M. and Mencuccini, Maurizio (2015) Does canopy nitrogen uptake enhance carbon sequestration by trees? Global Change Biology, 22 (2). pp. 875-888.

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Temperate forest 15N isotope trace experiments find nitrogen (N) addition-driven carbon (C) uptake is modest as little additional N is acquired by trees; however, several correlations of ambient N deposition against forest productivity imply a greater effect of atmospheric nitrogen deposition than these studies. We asked whether N deposition experiments adequately represent all processes found in ambient conditions. In particular, experiments typically apply 15N to directly to forest floors, assuming uptake of nitrogen intercepted by canopies (CNU) is minimal. Additionally, conventional 15N additions typically trace mineral 15N additions rather than litter N recycling and may increase total N inputs above ambient levels. To test the importance of CNU and recycled N to tree nutrition, we conducted a mesocosm experiment, applying 54 g N/15N ha−1 yr−1 to Sitka spruce saplings. We compared tree and soil 15N recovery among treatments where enrichment was due to either (1) a 15N-enriched litter layer, or mineral 15N additions to (2) the soil or (3) the canopy. We found that 60% of 15N applied to the canopy was recovered above ground (in needles, stem and branches) while only 21% of 15N applied to the soil was found in these pools. 15N recovery from litter was low and highly variable. 15N partitioning among biomass pools and age classes also differed among treatments, with twice as much 15N found in woody biomass when deposited on the canopy than soil. Stoichiometrically calculated N effect on C uptake from 15N applied to the soil, scaled to real-world conditions, was 43 kg C kg N−1, similar to manipulation studies. The effect from the canopy treatment was 114 kg C kg N−1. Canopy treatments may be critical to accurately represent N deposition in the field and may address the discrepancy between manipulative and correlative studies.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Global Change Biology
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1365-2486
Departments: Academic Departments > Science, Natural Resources & Outdoor Studies (SNROS) > Forestry and Conservation
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2016 15:52
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 14:47


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