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Is the growth of temperate forest trees enhanced along an ambient nitrogen deposition gradient?

Bedison, J.E., McNeil, B.E.
2 009
The extent to which atmospheric N deposition is enhancing primary production and CO2 sequestration along the ambient N deposition gradients found within many regional temperate forest ecosystems remains unknown. We used tree diameter measurements from 1984 and 2004, allometric equations, and estimates of wet N deposition from 32 permanent plots located along an ambient N deposition gradient in the Adirondack Park, New York, USA, to determine the effects of N deposition on the basal area and woody biomass increments (BAI and WBI, respectively) of individual stems from all the major tree species. Nitrogen deposition had either a neutral or positive effect on BAI and WBI, with the positive effects especially apparent within the smaller size classes of several species. The nature of these growth responses suggests that other co-varying factors (e. g., temperature, tropospheric ozone, soil acidification) may be partially counteracting the species-dependent fertilization effect of N deposition that was suggested by recent foliar N data across this gradient. Nevertheless, in documenting a fertilization effect from chronic, low-level, ambient rates of N deposition, this study underscores the need for more research on how N deposition is affecting rates of primary production, CO2 sequestration, and even vegetation dynamics in many forests worldwide.
EES Authors: 
James Bedison (2009)
Research Track Category: 

Department of Earth and Environmental Science / University of Pennsylvania, 251 Hayden Hall, 240 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6316