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Nitrogen fixation increases with successional age in boreal forests
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Plant Physiology. Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Umeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0536-903X
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2004 (English)In: Ecology, Vol. 85, 3327-3334 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There is little understanding of successional dynamics of N fixation in northern boreal forests. Recent evidence suggests that N fixation by cyanobacteria in association with the common feather moss Pleurozium schreberi contributes to a significant proportion of the total N economy. The purpose of the work herein was to determine how time since last fire influences N fixation rates in boreal forests. We evaluated seasonal N fixation rates on a total of 12 natural forest preserves varying in time since last fire (35–355 years). Each site was monitored for N fixation activity using a calibrated acetylene reduction assay. Nitrogen fixation rates were found to increase linearly with time since fire. This increase in N fixation with succession is likely a function of degree of colonization by cyanobacteria and site factors such as presence of available N. Surface applications of 4.5 kg N·ha−1·yr−1 as NH4NO3 were found to eliminate N fixation while applications of P resulted in only a slight and temporary increase of N fixation rates. In contrast to common observation our findings suggest that N fixation in boreal forests becomes more important in late succession. Limited N availability in late succession is clearly one of the primary drivers of N fixation rates in boreal forest ecosystems. These findings may help to explain the origin of high rates of net N accumulation in soil unaccounted for at northern boreal sites.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 85, 3327-3334 p.
Keyword [en]
acetylene reduction, boreal forest, feather mosses, fire, nitrogen fixation, Pleurozium schreberi, succession, Sweden
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-15957DOI: doi:10.1890/04-0461OAI: diva2:155629
Available from: 2007-08-06 Created: 2007-08-06 Last updated: 2015-04-29Bibliographically approved

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Sellstedt, Anita
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Department of Plant PhysiologyUmeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC)

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