N cycling depends on tree species traits and site fertility
We investigated the influence of tree species on the natural 15N abundance in forest stands under elevated ambient N deposition.We analysed δ15N in litter, the forest floor and three mineral soil horizons along with ecosystem N status variables at six sites planted three decades ago with five European broadleaved tree species and Norway spruce.Litter δ15N and 15N enrichment factor (δ15Nlitter–δ15Nsoil) were positively correlated with N status based on soil and litter N pools, nitrification, subsoil nitrate concentration and forest growth. Tree species differences were also significant for these N variables and for the litter δ15N and enrichment factor. Litter from ash and sycamore maple with high N status and low fungal mycelia activity was enriched in 15N (+0.9 delta units) relative to other tree species (European beech, pedunculate oak, lime and Norway spruce) even though the latter species leached more nitrate.The δ15N pattern reflected tree species related traits affecting the N cycling as well as site fertility and former land use, and possibly differences in N leaching. The tree species δ15N patterns reflected fractionation caused by uptake of N through mycorrhiza rather than due to nitrate leaching or other N transformation processes.
Plant and Soil, 2013, Vol 368, Issue 1-2, p. 375-392