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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Long-term water use efficiency and non-structural carbohydrates of dominant tree species in response to nitrogen and water additions in a warm temperate forest

Jiang, Xiyan; Song, Mengya; Qiao, Yaqi; Liu, Mengzhou; Ma, Lei; Fu, Shenglei


Nitrogen (N) deposition tends to accompany precipitation in temperate forests, and vegetation productivity is mostly controlled by water and N availability. Many studies showed that tree species response to precipitation or N deposition alone influences, while the N deposition and precipitation interactive effects on the traits of tree physiology, especially in non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs) and long-term water use efficiency (WUE), are still unclear. In this study, we measured carbon stable isotope (delta C-13), total soluble sugar and starch content, total phenols, and other physiological traits (e.g., leaf C:N:P stoichiometry, lignin, and cellulose content) of two dominant tree species (Quercus variabilis Blume and Liquidambar formosana Hance) under canopy-simulated N deposition and precipitation addition to analyze the changes of long-term WUE and NSC contents and to explain the response strategies of dominant trees to abiotic environmental changes. This study showed that N deposition decreased the root NSC concentrations of L. formosana and the leaf lignin content of Q. variabilis. The increased precipitation showed a negative effect on specific leaf area (SLA) and a positive effect on leaf WUE of Q. variabilis, while it increased the leaf C and N content and decreased the leaf cellulose content of L. formosana. The nitrogen-water interaction reduced the leaf lignin and total phenol content of Q. variabilis and decreased the leaf total phenol content of L. formosana, but it increased the leaf C and N content of L. formosana. Moreover, the response of L. formosana to the nitrogen-water interaction was greater than that of Q. variabilis, highlighting the differences between the two dominant tree species. The results showed that N deposition and precipitation obviously affected the tree growth strategies by affecting the NSC contents and long-term WUE. Canopy-simulated N deposition and precipitation provide a new insight into the effect of the nitrogen-water interaction on tree growth traits in a temperate forest ecosystem, enabling a better prediction of the response of dominant tree species to global change.


nitrogen and water additions; water use efficiency; non-structural carbohydrates; nutrients stoichiometry; delta C-13 stable isotope

Published in

Frontiers in Plant Science
2022, Volume: 13, article number: 1025162

    Associated SLU-program

    SLU Forest Damage Center

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Forest Science

    Publication identifier


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