Nitrogen Translocation to Fresh Litter in Northern Hardwood Forest

TitleNitrogen Translocation to Fresh Litter in Northern Hardwood Forest
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsLi, A, Fahey, TJ
Pagination521 - 528
Date Published2013/04/01/
ISBN Number1432-9840, 1435-0629
KeywordsEcology, Environmental Management, fungi, Geoecology/Natural Processes, isotope tracer, litter decay, Nature Conservation, nitrogen immobilization, nitrogen saturation, Plant Sciences, sugar maple, Zoology

Nitrogen immobilization in fresh litter represents a significant N flux in forest ecosystems, and changes in this process resulting from atmospheric N deposition could have important implications for ecosystem responses. We conducted two leaf decay experiments, using 15N-labeled sugar maple leaf litter, to quantify N transport from old litter and soil to fresh litter during early stages of decomposition, and we examined the influence of litter N concentration and soil N availability on upward N transfer in a northern hardwood forest. After one year of decay, the average N transfer from soil to fresh litter (2.63 mg N g−1 litter) was much higher than the N transfer from older litter (1- to 2-years-old) to fresh litter (0.37 mg N g−1 litter). We calculated the ratio of annual N transfer per unit of excess 15N pool for these two N sources. The ratio was not significantly different between old litter and soil, suggesting that fungi utilize N in the old litter and mineral soil pools for transport to decaying fresh litter with similar efficiency. Initial litter N concentration had a significant effect on upward N flux into decaying leaf litter, whereas no effect of soil N fertilization was observed. Reduction in the flux from soil to fresh litter owing to anthropogenic N inputs probably contributes significantly to changing soil N dynamics. Future work is needed on fungal N acquisition and transport as well as the fungal taxa involved in this process and their responses to changing environments.

Short TitleEcosystems