Age-Related Modulation of the Nitrogen Resorption Efficiency Response to Growth Requirements and Soil Nitrogen Availability in a Temperate Pine Plantation

Zhenzhong Sun, Lingli Liu, Shushi Peng, Josep Peñuelas, Hui Zeng, Shilong Piao

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    59 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Nitrogen (N) resorption is a key strategy for conserving N in forests, and is often affected by soil nutrient condition and N sink strength within the plant. However, our understanding of the age-related pattern of N resorption and how increasing N deposition will affect this pattern is limited. Here, we investigated N resorption along a chronosequence of stands ranging in age from 2 to 100 years old, and conducted a 4-year exogenous N input experiment in stands at age class 11, 20, and 45 in a Larix Principis-rupprechtii plantation in north China. We found a logarithmic increase in leaf N resorption efficiency (NRE) and green leaf N concentration, and a logarithmic decrease in senesced-leaf N concentration along the stand-age chronosequence. Leaf NRE was negatively correlated with plant-available N concentration. Stand-level N resorption was positively correlated with the annual N requirement for tree growth. N resorption contributed to 45, 62, and 68% of the annual N supply in the 11-, 20-, and 45-year-old stands, respectively. Our exogenous N input experiment showed that leaf NRE in the 11- and 20-year-old stands decreased 17 and 12% following a 50-kg N ha−1 y−1 input. However, leaf NRE was not affected in the 45-year-old stand. The increases in leaf NRE and the contribution of N resorption to annual N supply along stand ages suggested that, with stand development, tree growth depends more on N resorption to supply its N need. Furthermore, the leaf NRE of mature stand was not decreased under exogenous N input, suggesting that mature stands can be stronger sinks for N deposition than young stands due to their higher capacity to retain the deposited N within plants via internal cycle. Ignoring age-related N use strategies can lead to a bias in N cycle models when evaluating forest net primary production under increasing global N deposition.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)698-709
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


    • annual stand biomass production
    • green leaves
    • nitrogen deposition
    • nitrogen requirement
    • nitrogen resorption
    • plant-available nitrogen
    • senesced leaves
    • stand age


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