Articles | Volume 10, issue 6
Biogeosciences, 10, 3931–3941, 2013
Biogeosciences, 10, 3931–3941, 2013

Research article 18 Jun 2013

Research article | 18 Jun 2013

Long-term nitrogen addition decreases carbon leaching in a nitrogen-rich forest ecosystem

X. Lu1, F. S. Gilliam2, G. Yu3, L. Li4, Q. Mao1, H. Chen1, and J. Mo1 X. Lu et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Vegetation Restoration and Management of Degraded Ecosystems, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China
  • 2Department of Biological Sciences, Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia, 25755-2510, USA
  • 3Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • 4State Key Laboratory of Vegetation Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiangshan, Beijing, 100093, China

Abstract. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) plays a critical role in the carbon (C) cycle of forest soils, and has been recently connected with global increases in nitrogen (N) deposition. Most studies on effects of elevated N deposition on DOC have been carried out in N-limited temperate regions, with far fewer data available from N-rich ecosystems, especially in the context of chronically elevated N deposition. Furthermore, mechanisms for excess N-induced changes of DOC dynamics have been suggested to be different between the two kinds of ecosystems, because of the different ecosystem N status. The purpose of this study was to experimentally examine how long-term N addition affects DOC dynamics below the primary rooting zones (the upper 20 cm soils) in typically N-rich lowland tropical forests. We have a primary assumption that long-term continuous N addition minimally affects DOC concentrations and effluxes in N-rich tropical forests. Experimental N addition was administered at the following levels: 0, 50, 100 and 150 kg N ha−1 yr−1, respectively. Results showed that seven years of N addition significantly decreased DOC concentrations in soil solution, and chemo-physical controls (solution acidity change and soil sorption) rather than biological controls may mainly account for the decreases, in contrast to other forests. We further found that N addition greatly decreased annual DOC effluxes from the primary rooting zone and increased water-extractable DOC in soils. Our results suggest that long-term N deposition could increase soil C sequestration in the upper soils by decreasing DOC efflux from that layer in N-rich ecosystems, a novel mechanism for continued accumulation of soil C in old-growth forests.

Final-revised paper