Effects of nitrogen and phosphorus additions on nitrous oxide emission in a nitrogen-rich and two nitrogen-limited tropical forests
Abstract. Nitrogen (N) deposition is generally considered to increase soil nitrous oxide (N2O) emission in N-rich forests. In many tropical forests, however, elevated N deposition has caused soil N enrichment and further phosphorus (P) deficiency, and the interaction of N and P to control soil N2O emission remains poorly understood, particularly in forests with different soil N status. In this study, we examined the effects of N and P additions on soil N2O emission in an N-rich old-growth forest and two N-limited younger forests (a mixed and a pine forest) in southern China to test the following hypotheses: (1) soil N2O emission is the highest in old-growth forest due to the N-rich soil; (2) N addition increases N2O emission more in the old-growth forest than in the two younger forests; (3) P addition decreases N2O emission more in the old-growth forest than in the two younger forests; and (4) P addition alleviates the stimulation of N2O emission by N addition. The following four treatments were established in each forest: Control, N addition (150 kg N ha−1 yr−1), P addition (150 kg P ha−1 yr−1), and NP addition (150 kg N ha−1 yr−1 plus 150 kg P ha−1 yr−1). From February 2007 to October 2009, monthly quantification of soil N2O emission was performed using static chamber and gas chromatography techniques. Mean N2O emission was shown to be significantly higher in the old-growth forest (13.9 ± 0.7 µg N2O-N m−2 h−1) than in the mixed (9.9 ± 0.4 µg N2O-N m−2 h−1) or pine (10.8 ± 0.5 µg N2O-N m−2 h−1) forests, with no significant difference between the latter two. N addition significantly increased N2O emission in the old-growth forest but not in the two younger forests. However, both P and NP addition had no significant effect on N2O emission in all three forests, suggesting that P addition alleviated the stimulation of N2O emission by N addition in the old-growth forest. Although P fertilization may alleviate the stimulated effects of atmospheric N deposition on N2O emission in N-rich forests, this effect may only occur under high N deposition and/or long-term P addition, and we suggest future investigations to definitively assess this management strategy and the importance of P in regulating N cycles from regional to global scales.