Effects of Long-Term Nitrogen Addition and Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition on Carbon Accumulation in Picea sitchensis Plantations

Tiziana Gentilesca, Massimo Vieno, Michael P. Perks, Marco Borghetti, Maurizio Mencuccini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study aimed to assess the combined effects of long-term nitrogen (N) supply and nitrogen deposition (Ndep) on carbon (C) accumulation within Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr.) plantations in Scotland. Six study sites established from 1970 to 1982 were periodically N-fertilized, monitored over time and commonly surveyed in 2010. Soil, above-ground biomass and ground vegetation C stock changes were analyzed; aboveground C stocks were correlated with total additional N experienced at each site, i.e., the sum of experimental N supply (Nadd) and site-specific accumulated Ndep from 1900 to 2010. Results showed a positive N effect on above-ground tree C stock and no decline in tree growth was observed either during fertilization or after the latest N addition. The amount of C in litter was significantly higher in experimentally N-treated plots, while the amount of C in understory vegetation was higher in control plots. Pooling all the compartments (i.e., understory vegetation, litter, soil, and tree biomass) the total ecosystem C content was estimated for each site, and at most sites a higher C stock was estimated for N-treated plots. Differences in aboveground C accumulation rates between treated and control plots were lower at sites with high levels of accumulated Ndep. Our results indicate that site-specific accumulated Ndep should be considered in order to understand tree growth responses to N fertilization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1310-1324
Number of pages15
JournalEcosystems
Volume16
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013

Keywords

  • anthropogenic nitrogen deposition
  • carbon stock
  • Sitka spruce
  • soil fertilization
  • tree growth
  • Urea

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