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Oecologia. 2007 Aug;153(2):399-406. Epub 2007 May 4.

Plant and soil natural abundance delta (15)N: indicators of relative rates of nitrogen cycling in temperate forest ecosystems.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Boston University, 5 Cummington Street, Boston, MA 02215, USA. ptempler@bu.edu

Abstract

Watersheds within the Catskill Mountains, New York, receive among the highest rates of nitrogen (N) deposition in the northeastern United States and are beginning to show signs of N saturation. Despite similar amounts of N deposition across watersheds within the Catskill Mountains, rates of soil N cycling and N retention vary significantly among stands of different tree species. We examined the potential use of delta (15)N of plants and soils as an indicator of relative forest soil N cycling rates. We analyzed the delta (15)N of foliage, litterfall, bole wood, surface litter layer, fine roots and organic soil from single-species stands of American beech (Fagus grandifolia), eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), red oak (Quercus rubra), and sugar maple (Acer saccharum). Fine root and organic soil delta (15)N values were highest within sugar maple stands, which correlated significantly with higher rates of net mineralization and nitrification. Results from this study suggest that fine root and organic soil delta (15)N can be used as an indicator of relative rates of soil N cycling. Although not statistically significant, delta (15)N was highest within foliage, wood and litterfall of beech stands, a tree species associated with intermediate levels of soil N cycling rates and forest N retention. Our results show that belowground delta (15)N values are a better indicator of relative rates of soil N cycling than are aboveground delta (15)N values.

PMID:
17479293
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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