Retention of dissolved inorganic nitrogen by foliage and twigs of four temperate tree species
Faculty of Sciences. Bioscience Engineering
New York, N.Y.
Ecosystems. - New York, N.Y.
, p. 1093-1107
University of Antwerp
Nitrogen (N) retention by tree canopies is believed to be an important process for tree nutrient uptake, and its quantification is a key issue in determining the impact of atmospheric N deposition on forest ecosystems. Due to dry deposition and retention by other canopy elements, the actual uptake and assimilation by the tree canopy is often obscured in throughfall studies. In this study, N-15-labeled solutions ( and ) were used to assess dissolved inorganic N retention by leaves/needles and twigs of European beech, pedunculate oak, silver birch, and Scots pine saplings. The effects of N form, tree species, leaf phenology, and applied to ratio on the N retention were assessed. Retention patterns were mainly determined by foliar uptake, except for Scots pine. In twigs, a small but significant N-15 enrichment was detected for , which was found to be mainly due to physicochemical adsorption to the woody plant surface. The mean retention ratio varied considerably among species and phenological stadia, which indicates that the use of a fixed ratio in the canopy budget model could lead to an over- or underestimation of the total N retention. In addition, throughfall water under each branch was collected and analyzed for , , and all major ions. Net throughfall of was, on average, 20 times higher than the actual retention of by the plant material. This difference in retention could not be attributed to pools and fluxes measured in this study. The retention of was correlated with the net throughfall of K+, Mg2+, Ca2+, and weak acids during leaf development and the fully leafed period, while no significant relationships were found for retention. This suggests that the main driving factors for retention might be ion exchange processes during the start and middle of the growing season and passive diffusion at leaf senescence. Actual assimilation or abiotic uptake of N through leaves and twigs was small in this study, for example, 1-5% of the applied dissolved N-15, indicating that the impact of canopy N retention from wet deposition on forest productivity and carbon sequestration is likely limited.