Sinks for nitrogen inputs in terrestrial ecosystems: a meta-analysis of15N tracer field studies

Templer, P.H.; Mack, M.C.; Chapin III, F.S.; Christenson, L.M.; Compton, J.E.; Crook, H.D.; Currie, W.S.; Curtis, C.J.; Dail, D.B.; D'Antonio, C.M.; Emmett, B.A.; Epstein, H.E.; Goodale, C.L.; Gundersen, P.; Hobbie, S.E.; Holland, K.; Hooper, D.U.; Hungate, B.A.; Lamontagne, S.; Nadelhoffer, K.J.; Osenberg, C.W.; Perakis, S.S.; Schleppi, P.; Schimel, J.; Schmidt, I.K.; Sommerkorn, M.; Spoelstra, J.; Tietema, A.; Wessel, W.W.; Zak, D.R.. 2012 Sinks for nitrogen inputs in terrestrial ecosystems: a meta-analysis of15N tracer field studies. Ecology, 93 (8). 1816-1829.

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Effects of anthropogenic nitrogen (N) deposition and the ability of terrestrial ecosystems to store carbon (C) depend in part on the amount of N retained in the system and its partitioning among plant and soil pools. We conducted a meta-analysis of studies at 48 sites across four continents that used enriched 15N isotope tracers in order to synthesize information about total ecosystem N retention (i.e., total ecosystem 15N recovery in plant and soil pools) across natural systems and N partitioning among ecosystem pools. The greatest recoveries of ecosystem 15N tracer occurred in shrublands (mean, 89.5%) and wetlands (84.8%) followed by forests (74.9%) and grasslands (51.8%). In the short term (<1 week after 15N tracer application), total ecosystem 15N recovery was negatively correlated with fine-root and soil 15N natural abundance, and organic soil C and N concentration but was positively correlated with mean annual temperature and mineral soil C:N. In the longer term (3–18 months after 15N tracer application), total ecosystem 15N retention was negatively correlated with foliar natural-abundance 15N but was positively correlated with mineral soil C and N concentration and C : N, showing that plant and soil natural-abundance 15N and soil C:N are good indicators of total ecosystem N retention. Foliar N concentration was not significantly related to ecosystem 15N tracer recovery, suggesting that plant N status is not a good predictor of total ecosystem N retention. Because the largest ecosystem sinks for 15N tracer were below ground in forests, shrublands, and grasslands, we conclude that growth enhancement and potential for increased C storage in aboveground biomass from atmospheric N deposition is likely to be modest in these ecosystems. Total ecosystem 15N recovery decreased with N fertilization, with an apparent threshold fertilization rate of 46 kg N·ha−1·yr−1 above which most ecosystems showed net losses of applied 15N tracer in response to N fertilizer addition

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Emmett
ISSN: 0012-9658
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Copyright by the Ecological Society of America
Additional Keywords: atmospheric nitrogen deposition, carbon storage, data synthesis, meta-analysis, nitrogen retention and loss, stable isotopes
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 21 Jan 2013 13:52 +0 (UTC)

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