Publication
Title
Nutrient availability as the key regulator of global forest carbon balance
Author
Abstract
Forests strongly affect climate through the exchange of large amounts of atmospheric CO2 (ref. 1). The main drivers of spatial variability in net ecosystem production (NEP) on a global scale are, however, poorly known. As increasing nutrient availability increases the production of biomass per unit of photosynthesis(2) and reduces heterotrophic(3) respiration in forests, we expected nutrients to determine carbon sequestration in forests. Our synthesis study of 92 forests in different climate zones revealed that nutrient availability indeed plays a crucial role in determining NEP and ecosystem carbon-use efficiency (CUEe; that is, the ratio of NEP to gross primary production (GPP)). Forests with high GPP exhibited high NEP only in nutrient-rich forests (CUEe = 33 +/- 4%; mean +/- s.e.m.). In nutrient-poor forests, a much larger proportion of GPP was released through ecosystem respiration, resulting in lower CUEe (6 +/- 4%). Our finding that nutrient availability exerts a stronger control on NEP than on carbon input (GPP) conflicts with assumptions of nearly all global coupled carbon cycle-climate models, which assume that carbon inputs through photosynthesis drive biomass production and carbon sequestration. An improved global understanding of nutrient availability would therefore greatly improve carbon cycle modelling and should become a critical focus for future research.
Language
English
Source (journal)
Nature climate change
Publication
2014
ISSN
1758-678X
1758-6798
Volume/pages
4:6(2014), p. 471-476
ISI
000337138700023
Full text (Publisher's DOI)
Full text (open access)
Full text (publisher's version - intranet only)
UAntwerpen
Faculty/Department
Research group
Publication type
Subject
Affiliation
Publications with a UAntwerp address
External links
Web of Science
Record
Identification
Creation 28.08.2014
Last edited 13.11.2017
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