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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Components explain, but do eddy fluxes constrain? Carbon budget of a nitrogen-fertilized boreal Scots pine forest

Marshall, John D.; Tarvainen, Lasse; Zhao, Peng; Lim, Hyungwoo; Wallin, Goran; Nasholm, Torgny; Lundmark, Tomas; Linder, Sune; Peichl, Matthias


Nitrogen (N) fertilization increases biomass and soil organic carbon (SOC) accumulation in boreal pine forests, but the underlying mechanisms remain uncertain. At two Scots pine sites, one undergoing annual N fertilization and the other a reference, we sought to explain these responses.We measured component fluxes, including biomass production, SOC accumulation, and respiration, and summed them into carbon budgets. We compared the resulting summations to ecosystem fluxes measured by eddy covariance.N fertilization increased most component fluxes (P < 0.05), especially SOC accumulation (20x). Only fine-root, mycorrhiza, and exudate production decreased, by 237 (SD = 28) g C m(-2) yr(-1). Stemwood production increases were ascribed to this partitioning shift, gross primary production (GPP), and carbon-use efficiency, in that order. The methods agreed in their estimates of GPP in both stands (P > 0.05), but the components detected an increase in net ecosystem production (NEP) (190 (54) g C m(-2) yr(-1); P < 0.01) that eddy covariance did not (19 (62) g C m(-2) yr(-1); ns).The pairing of plots, the simplicity of the sites, and the strength of response provide a compelling description of N effects on the C budget. However, the disagreement between methods calls for further paired tests of N fertilization effects in simple forest ecosystems.


canopy photosynthesis; carbon flux partitioning; carbon sequestration; carbon-use efficiency; eddy covariance; nitrogen fertilization

Published in

New Phytologist
Publisher: WILEY