Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2021-11
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2021-11

  20 Jan 2021

20 Jan 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Cycling and retention of nitrogen in European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) ecosystems under elevated fructification frequency

Rainer Brumme1, Bernd Ahrends2, Joachim Block3, Christoph Schulz4, Henning Meesenburg2, Uwe Klinck2, Markus Wagner2, and Partap Khanna5 Rainer Brumme et al.
  • 1Soil Science of Tropical and Subtropical Ecosystems, Faculty of Forest Science and Forest Ecology, Georg-August-University of Göttingen, Göttingen, 37073, Germany
  • 2Department of Environmental Control, Northwest German Forest Research Institute (NW-FVA), Göttingen, Germany
  • 3Formerly Department for Forest Monitoring, Research Institute for Forest Ecology and Forestry Rhineland-Palatinate (FAWF), Hauptstraße 16, D67705 Trippstadt, Germany
  • 4Departement Forest Policy, Counseling and Ownership, Bavarian State Institute of Forestry (LWF), Freising, Germany
  • 5Soil Science of Temperate and Boreal Ecosystems, Faculty of Forest Science and Forest Ecology, Georg-August University of Göttingen, Göttingen, 37073, Germany

Abstract. Atmospheric deposition of nitrogen (N) has exceeded its demand for plant increment in forest ecosystems in Germany. High N inputs increased plant growth, the internal N cycling within the ecosystem, the retention of N in soils and plant compartments, and the N output by seepage water. But the processes involved are not fully understood, especially the role of fructification which has increased in its frequency. A field experiment using 15N labelled leaf litter exchange was carried out over a 5.5 years' period at seven long-term monitoring sites with European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) ecosystems to study the impact of current mast frequency on N cycling. Mean annual leaf litterfall contained 35 kg N ha−1, but about one half of that was recovered in the soil 5.5 years after the establishment of the leaf litter 15N exchange experiment. Retention of leaf litter N in the soil was more closely related to the production of total litterfall than to the leaf litterfall indicating the role of fructification of beech trees in the amount of leaf N retained in the soil. In these forests fructification occurred commonly in intervals of 5 to 10 years, which has now changed to every two to three years as observed during this study period. Seed cupules contributed 51 % to the additional litterfall in mast years which caused a high nutrient demand during their decomposition due to their very high carbon (C) to N and C to phosphorus (P) ratios. Higher mast frequency increased the mass of mean annual litterfall by about 0.5 Mg ha−1 and of litterfall N by 8.7 kg ha−1. Mean net primary production (NPP) increased by about 4 %. Mean total N retention in soils calculated by input and output fluxes was unrelated to total litterfall indicating that mast events were not the primary factor controlling total N retention in soils. Despite reduced N deposition since the 1990s about 5.7 kg N ha−1 out of 20.7 kg N ha−1 deposited annually between 1994 and 2008 were retained in soils notably at acid sites with high N / P and C / P ratios in the organic layers and mineral soils. Ongoing N retention increased the N / P ratios in acid soils with moder type humus forms and reduced the availability of P for plant growth and litter decomposition. Trees retained twice as much N compared to soils by biomass increment particularly in less acid stands where the mineral soils had low C / N ratios.

Rainer Brumme et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2021-11', Anonymous Referee #1, 25 Feb 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Bernd Ahrends, 30 Apr 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2021-11', Anonymous Referee #2, 01 Apr 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Bernd Ahrends, 30 Apr 2021

Rainer Brumme et al.

Rainer Brumme et al.

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