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Title: Nitrogen uptake, distribution, turnover, and efficiency of use in a CO2-enriched sweetgum forest

Abstract

The Progressive Nitrogen Limitation (PNL) hypothesis suggests that ecosystems in a CO2-enriched atmosphere will sequester C and N in long-lived biomass and soil organic pools, thereby limiting available N and constraining the continued response of net primary productivity to elevated [CO2]. Here, we present a six-year record of N dynamics of a sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) stand exposed to elevated [CO2] in the free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiment at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA. We also evaluate the concept of PNL for this ecosystem from the perspective of N uptake, content, distribution, and turnover, and N-use efficiency. Leaf N content was 11% lower on a leaf mass basis (NM) and 7% lower on a leaf area basis (N{sub A}) in CO2-enriched trees. However, there was no effect of [CO2] on total canopy N content. Resorption of N during senescence was not altered by [CO2], so NM of litter, but not total N content, was reduced. The NM of fine roots was not affected, but the total amount of N required for fine-root production increased significantly, reflecting the large stimulation of fine-root production in this stand. Hence, total N requirement of the trees was higher in elevated [CO2], and the increased requirement wasmore » met through an increase in N uptake rather than increased retranslocation of stored reserves. Increased N uptake was correlated with increased net primary productivity (NPP). N-use efficiency, however, did not change with CO2 enrichment because increased N productivity was offset by lower mean residence time of N in the trees. None of the measured responses of plant N dynamics in this ecosystem indicated the occurrence of PNL, and the stimulation of NPP by elevated [CO2] was sustained for the first six years of the experiment. Although there are some indications of developing changes in the N economy, the N supply in the soil at this site may be sufficient to meet an increasing demand for available N, especially as the roots of CO2-enriched trees explore deeper in the soil profile.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1]
  1. ORNL
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
932148
DOE Contract Number:
DE-AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Ecology; Journal Volume: 87; Journal Issue: 1
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
09 BIOMASS FUELS; BIOMASS; CARBON DIOXIDE; DISTRIBUTION; ECOSYSTEMS; EFFICIENCY; FORESTS; HYPOTHESIS; NITROGEN; PRODUCTION; PRODUCTIVITY; SOILS; STIMULATION; TREES

Citation Formats

Norby, Richard J, and Iversen, Colleen M. Nitrogen uptake, distribution, turnover, and efficiency of use in a CO2-enriched sweetgum forest. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.1890/04-1950.
Norby, Richard J, & Iversen, Colleen M. Nitrogen uptake, distribution, turnover, and efficiency of use in a CO2-enriched sweetgum forest. United States. doi:10.1890/04-1950.
Norby, Richard J, and Iversen, Colleen M. Sun . "Nitrogen uptake, distribution, turnover, and efficiency of use in a CO2-enriched sweetgum forest". United States. doi:10.1890/04-1950.
@article{osti_932148,
title = {Nitrogen uptake, distribution, turnover, and efficiency of use in a CO2-enriched sweetgum forest},
author = {Norby, Richard J and Iversen, Colleen M},
abstractNote = {The Progressive Nitrogen Limitation (PNL) hypothesis suggests that ecosystems in a CO2-enriched atmosphere will sequester C and N in long-lived biomass and soil organic pools, thereby limiting available N and constraining the continued response of net primary productivity to elevated [CO2]. Here, we present a six-year record of N dynamics of a sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) stand exposed to elevated [CO2] in the free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiment at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA. We also evaluate the concept of PNL for this ecosystem from the perspective of N uptake, content, distribution, and turnover, and N-use efficiency. Leaf N content was 11% lower on a leaf mass basis (NM) and 7% lower on a leaf area basis (N{sub A}) in CO2-enriched trees. However, there was no effect of [CO2] on total canopy N content. Resorption of N during senescence was not altered by [CO2], so NM of litter, but not total N content, was reduced. The NM of fine roots was not affected, but the total amount of N required for fine-root production increased significantly, reflecting the large stimulation of fine-root production in this stand. Hence, total N requirement of the trees was higher in elevated [CO2], and the increased requirement was met through an increase in N uptake rather than increased retranslocation of stored reserves. Increased N uptake was correlated with increased net primary productivity (NPP). N-use efficiency, however, did not change with CO2 enrichment because increased N productivity was offset by lower mean residence time of N in the trees. None of the measured responses of plant N dynamics in this ecosystem indicated the occurrence of PNL, and the stimulation of NPP by elevated [CO2] was sustained for the first six years of the experiment. Although there are some indications of developing changes in the N economy, the N supply in the soil at this site may be sufficient to meet an increasing demand for available N, especially as the roots of CO2-enriched trees explore deeper in the soil profile.},
doi = {10.1890/04-1950},
journal = {Ecology},
number = 1,
volume = 87,
place = {United States},
year = {Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2006},
month = {Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2006}
}
  • The Progressive Nitrogen Limitation (PNL) hypothesis suggests that ecosystems in a CO2-enriched atmosphere will sequester C and N in long-lived biomass and soil organic pools, thereby limiting available N and constraining the continued response of net primary productivity to elevated [CO2]. Here, we present a six-year record of N dynamics of a sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) stand exposed to elevated [CO2] in the free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiment at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA. We also evaluate the concept of PNL for this ecosystem from the perspective of N uptake, content, distribution, and turnover, and N-use efficiency. Leaf N content was 11more » percent lower on a leaf mass basis (NM) and 7 percent lower on a leaf area basis (NA) in CO2-enriched trees. However, there was no effect of [CO2] on total canopy N content. Resorption of N during senescence was not altered by [CO2], so NM of litter, but not total N content, was reduced. The NM of fine roots was not affected, but the total amount of N required for fine-root production increased significantly, reflecting the large stimulation of fine-root production in this stand. Hence, total N requirement of the trees was higher in elevated [CO2], and the increased requirement was met through an increase in N uptake rather than increased retranslocation of stored reserves. Increased N uptake was correlated with increased net primary productivity (NPP). N-use efficiency, however, did not change with CO2 enrichment because increased N productivity was offset by lower mean residence time of N in the trees. None of the measured responses of plant N dynamics in this ecosystem indicated the occurrence of PNL, and the stimulation of NPP by elevated [CO2] was sustained for the first six years of the experiment. Although there are some indications of developing changes in the N economy, the N supply in the soil at this site may be sufficient to meet an increasing demand for available N, especially as the roots of CO2-enriched trees explore deeper in the soil profile.« less
  • Forest ecosystems are important sinks for rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2. In a previous data synthesis of four forest FACE experiments (1), forest net primary production (NPP) increased by 23 2% when the forests were grown under atmospheric concentrations of CO2 predicted for the latter half of this century. Because nitrogen (N) availability commonly limits forest productivity, more N must be taken up from the soil and/or the N already assimilated by trees must be used more efficiently to support high rates of forest productivity under elevated CO2. Biogeochemical models predict that increases in forest NPP under elevated CO2 inmore » N-limited ecosystems result in a significant increase in N-use efficiency (NUE), and that additional uptake of N by trees under elevated CO2 is only possible in ecosystems where N is not limiting. Here, experimental evidence demonstrates that patterns of N uptake and NUE under elevated CO2 differed from that predicted by biogeochemical models. The uptake of N increased under elevated CO2 at the Rhinelander, Duke and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) FACE sites, yet fertilization studies at the Duke and ORNL FACE sites showed that tree growth and forest NPP were strongly limited by N availability. By contrast, NUE increased under elevated CO2 only at the POP-EUROFACE site where fertilization studies showed that N was not limiting to tree growth. In reviewing data from the forest FACE experiments, we suggest that some combination of increasing fine root production, increased rates of soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition, and increased allocation of carbon (C) to mycorrhizal fungi is likely to account for greater N uptake under elevated CO2 at the forest FACE sites. To accurately forecast the response of forest ecosystems to rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2, biogeochemical models must be reformulated to allow C transfers belowground that result in additional N uptake under elevated CO2.« less
  • Increased partitioning of carbon (C) to fine roots under elevated [CO2], especially deep in the soil profile, could alter soil C and nitrogen (N) cycling in forests. After more than 11 years of free-Air CO2 enrichment in a Liquidambar styraciflua L. (sweetgum) plantation in Oak Ridge, TN, USA, greater inputs of fine roots resulted in the incorporation of new C (i.e., C with a depleted 13C) into root-derived particulate organic matter (POM) pools to 90-cm depth. Even though production in the sweetgum stand was limited by soil N availability, soil C and N content increased over time, and were greatermore » throughout the soil profile under elevated [CO2] at the conclusion of the experiment. However, greater C inputs under elevated [CO2] did not result in increased net N immobilization or C mineralization rates in long-term laboratory incubations, and did not appear to prime the decomposition of older SOM. The 13CO2 of the C mineralized from the incubated soil closely tracked the 13C of the labile POM pool in the elevated [CO2] treatment, especially in shallower soil, and did not indicate the decomposition of older (i.e., pre-experiment) SOM. While potential C mineralization rates were positively and linearly related to total soil organic matter (SOM) C content in the top 30 cm of soil, this relationship did not hold in deeper soil. Taken together with an increased mean residence time of C in deeper soil pools, these findings indicate that C inputs from relatively deep roots under elevated [CO2] may have increased potential for long-term storage. Expanded representation of biogeochemical cycling throughout the soil profile may improve model projections of future forest responses to rising atmospheric [CO2].« less