Contrasting effects of long term versus short-term nitrogen addition on photosynthesis and respiration in the Arctic
van de Weg, Martine J.
Shaver, Gaius R.
Salmon, Verity G.
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KeywordNitrogen use efficiency; Fertilisation; LTER; Alaska; Chlorophyll; Canopy; Leaf mass per area
We examined the effects of short (<1 to 4 years) and long-term (22 years) nitrogen (N) and/or phosphorus (P) addition on the foliar CO2 exchange parameters of the arctic species Betula nana and Eriophorum vaginatum in northern Alaska. Measured variables included: the carboxylation efficiency of Rubisco (Vcmax), electron transport capacity (Jmax), dark respiration (Rd), chlorophyll a and b content (Chl), and total foliar N (N). For both B. nana and E. vaginatum, foliar N increased by 20-50% as a consequence of 1 to 22 years of fertilisation, respectively, and for B. nana foliar Nincrease was consistent throughout the whole canopy. However, despite this large increase in foliar N, no significant changes in Vcmax and Jmax were observed. In contrast, Rd was significantly higher (>25%) in both species after 22 years of N addition, but not in the shorter-term treatments. Surprisingly, Chl only increased in both species the first year of fertilisation (i.e. the first season of nutrients applied), but not in the longer-term treatments. These results imply that: 1) Under current (low) N availability, these Arctic species either already optimize their photosynthetic capacity per leaf area, or are limited by other nutrients; 2) Observed increases in Arctic NEE and GPP with increased nutrient availability are caused by structural changes like increased leaf area index, rather than increased foliar photosynthetic capacity and 3) Short-term effects (1-4 years) of nutrient addition cannot always be extrapolated to a larger time scale, which emphasizes the importance of long-term ecological experiments.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2013. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Springer for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Plant Ecology 214 (2013): 1273-1286, doi:10.1007/s11258-013-0250-6.
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