Foliar and soil concentrations and stoichiometry of nitrogen and phosphorous across European Pinus sylvestris forests: Relationships with climate, N deposition and tree growth

Sardans J., Alonso R., Janssens I.A., Carnicer J., Vereseglou S., Rillig M.C., Fernández-Martínez M., Sanders T.G.M., Peñuelas J. (2015) Foliar and soil concentrations and stoichiometry of nitrogen and phosphorous across European Pinus sylvestris forests: Relationships with climate, N deposition and tree growth. Functional Ecology. : 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12541

Abstract:

This study investigated the factors underlying the variability of needle and soil elemental composition and stoichiometry and their relationships with growth in Pinus sylvestris forests throughout the species' distribution in Europe by analysing data from 2245 forest stands. Needle N concentrations and N:P ratios were positively correlated with total atmospheric N deposition, whereas needle P concentrations were negatively correlated. These relationships were especially pronounced at sites where high levels of N deposition coincided with both higher mean annual temperature and higher mean annual precipitation. Trends towards foliar P deficiency were thus more marked when high N deposition coincided with climatic conditions favourable to plant production. Atmospheric N deposition was positively correlated with soil solution NO3- , SO42- , K+, P and Ca2+ concentrations, the soil solution NO3-:P ratio, total soil N and the total soil N:Olsen P ratio and was negatively correlated with soil Olsen P concentration. Despite these nutrient imbalances, during the period studied (1990-2006), N deposition was positively related with Pinus sylvestris absolute basal diameter (BD) growth, although only accounting for the 10% of the total variance. However, neither N deposition nor needle N concentration was related with relative annual BD growth. In contrast, needle P concentration was positively related with both absolute and relative annual BD growth. These results thus indicate a tendency of European P. sylvestris forests to store N in trees and soil in response to N deposition and unveil a trend towards increased nutrient losses in run-off as a consequence of higher soil solution N concentrations. Overall, the data show increasing ecosystem nutrient imbalances with increasingly limiting roles of P and other nutrients such as K in European P. sylvestris forests, especially in the centre of their distribution where higher levels of N deposition are observed. Thus, although the data show that N deposition has had an overall positive effect on P. sylvestris growth, the effect of continuous N deposition, associated with decreasing P and K and increasing N:P in leaves and in soil, may in the future become detrimental for the growth and competitive ability of P. sylvestris trees. © 2015 British Ecological Society.

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Foliar elemental composition of European forest tree species associated with evolutionary traits and present environmental and competitive conditions

Sardans J., Janssens I.A., Alonso R., Veresoglou S.D., Rillig M.C., Sanders T.G.M., Carnicer J., Filella I., Farre-Armengol G., Penuelas J. (2015) Foliar elemental composition of European forest tree species associated with evolutionary traits and present environmental and competitive conditions. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 24: 240-255.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/geb.12253

Abstract:

Aim: Plant elemental composition and stoichiometry are crucial for plant structure and function. We studied to what extent elemental stoichiometry in plants might be strongly related to environmental drivers and competition from coexisting species. Location: Europe. Methods: We analysed foliar N, P, K, Ca and Mg concentrations and their ratios among 50 species of European forest trees sampled in 5284 plots across Europe and their relationships with phylogeny, forest type, current climate and N deposition. Results: Phylogeny is strongly related to overall foliar elemental composition in European tree species. Species identity explained 56.7% of the overall foliar elemental composition and stoichiometry. Forest type and current climatic conditions also partially explained the differences in foliar elemental composition among species. In the same genus co-occurring species had overall higher differences in foliar elemental composition and stoichiometry than the non-co-occurring species. Main conclusions: The different foliar elemental compositions among species are related to phylogenetic distances, but they are also related to current climatic conditions, forest types, drivers of global change such as atmospheric N deposition, and to differences among co-occurring species as a probable consequence of niche specialization to reduce direct competition for the same resources. Different species have their own 'fixed' foliar elemental compositions but retain some degree of plasticity to the current climatic and competitive conditions. A wider set of elements beyond N and P better represent the biogeochemical niche and are highly sensitive to plant function. Foliar elemental composition can thus be useful for representing important aspects of plant species niches. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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