Article thumbnail

Pinus ponderosa alters nitrogen dynamics and diminishes the climate footprint in natural ecosystems of Patagonia

By Laura J. T. Hess and Amy Theresa Austin

Abstract

1. Understanding climate effects on plant?soil interactions in terrestrial ecosystems remains challenging due to the fact that floristic composition covaries with climate, particularly along rainfall gradients. It is difficult to separate effects of precipitation per se from those mediated indirectly through changes in species composition. As such, afforestation (the intentional planting of woody species) in terrestrial ecosystems provides an ecological opportunity to assess the relative importance of climate and vegetation controls on ecosystem processes. 2. We investigated the impacts of 35 years of afforestation on ecosystem N dynamics, in ecosystems ranging from arid shrub-steppe to closed-canopy forest in Patagonia, Argentina. Sites of natural vegetation and adjacent sites planted with a single exotic species, Pinus ponderosa, were identified in five precipitation regimes along a continuous gradient of 250?2200 mm mean annual precipitation (MAP). We evaluated C and N parameters of vegetation and soil, as well as natural abundance of 13C and 15N in leaves, roots, ectomycorrhizae (EcM) and soils. 3. In natural vegetation, most leaf traits (%N, C:N ratios, leaf mass per area, d15N values) demonstrated strong significant relationships with MAP, while these relationships were nearly absent in afforested sites. In addition, the EcM of native southern beech and pine trees were significantly enriched in 15N relative to leaves at all sites where they were present. While soil C and N pools in both vegetation types increased with MAP, overall pool sizes were significantly reduced in afforested sites. 4. Synthesis. Observed relationships between leaf traits and precipitation in natural vegetation may be driven largely by shifts in species composition and plant?soil interactions, rather than direct effects of precipitation. Our results suggest that a change in the species composition of the dominant vegetation is sufficient to alter C and N cycling independently of climate constraints: pine afforestation homogenized N dynamics across sites spanning an order of magnitude of MAP. These results highlight the important control of ectomycorrhizal associations in affecting C and N dynamics. Additionally, they serve to demonstrate that altering natural species composition alone is sufficient to cause large, detectable impacts on N turnover independently of direct climate effects.Fil: Hess, Laura J. T.. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Oficina de Coordinación Administrativa Parque Centenario. Instituto de Investigaciones Fisiológicas y Ecológicas Vinculadas a la Agricultura; Argentina. Stanford University. Department of Environmental Earth System Science; Estados UnidosFil: Austin, Amy Theresa. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Oficina de Coordinación Administrativa Parque Centenario. Instituto de Investigaciones Fisiológicas y Ecológicas Vinculadas a la Agricultura; Argentin

Topics: PLANT-SOIL INTERACTIONS, TEMPERATE FOREST, STABLE ISOTOPES 15N, NITROGEN CYCLING, Ecología, Ciencias Biológicas, CIENCIAS NATURALES Y EXACTAS
Publisher: Wiley
Year: 2014
DOI identifier: 10.1111/1365-2745.12228/abstract
OAI identifier: oai:ri.conicet.gov.ar:11336/4158
Provided by: CONICET Digital
Journal:
Download PDF:
Sorry, we are unable to provide the full text but you may find it at the following location(s):
  • http://hdl.handle.net/11336/41... (external link)
  • Suggested articles


    To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.