delta N-15 values of tropical savanna and monsoon forest species reflect root specialisations and soil nitrogen status

Schmidt, S. and Stewart, G. R. (2003) delta N-15 values of tropical savanna and monsoon forest species reflect root specialisations and soil nitrogen status. Oecologia, 134 4: 569-577. doi:10.1007/s00442-002-1150-y


Author Schmidt, S.
Stewart, G. R.
Title delta N-15 values of tropical savanna and monsoon forest species reflect root specialisations and soil nitrogen status
Formatted title
δ15n values of tropical savanna and monsoon forest species reflect root specialisations and soil nitrogen status
Journal name Oecologia   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0029-8549
Publication date 2003-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s00442-002-1150-y
Volume 134
Issue 4
Start page 569
End page 577
Total pages 9
Place of publication New York
Publisher Springer-Verlag
Language eng
Subject C1
270708 Conservation and Biodiversity
620301 Native forests
Abstract A large number of herbaceous and woody plants from tropical woodland, savanna, and monsoon forest were analysed to determine the impact of environmental factors (nutrient and water availability, fire) and biological factors (microbial associations, systematics) on plant delta(15)N values. Foliar delta(15)N values of herbaceous and woody species were not related to growth form or phenology, but a strong relationship existed between mycorrhizal status and plant delta(15)N. In woodland and savanna, woody species with ectomycorrhizal (ECM) associations and putative N-2-fixing species with ECM/arbuscular (AM) associations had lowest foliar delta(15)N values (1.0-0.6parts per thousand), AM species had mostly intermediate delta(15)N values (average +0.6parts per thousand), while non-mycorrhizal Proteaceae had highest delta(15)N values (+2.9 to +4.1parts per thousand). Similar differences in foliar delta(15)N were observed between AM (average 0.1 and 0.2parts per thousand) and non-mycorrhizal (average +0.8 and +0.3parts per thousand) herbaceous species in woodland and savanna. Leguminous savanna species had significantly higher leaf N contents (1.8-2.5% N) than non-fixing species (0.9-1.2% N) indicating substantial N acquisition via N-2 fixation. Monsoon forest species had similar leaf N contents (average 2.4% N) and positive delta(15)N values (+0.9 to +2.4parts per thousand). Soil nitrification and plant NO3- use was substantially higher in monsoon forest than in woodland or savanna. In the studied communities, higher soil N content and nitrification rates were associated with more positive soil delta(15)N and plant delta(15)N. In support of this notion, Ficus, a high NO3- using taxa associated with NO3- rich sites in the savanna, had the highest delta(15)N values of all AM species in the savanna. delta(15)N of xylem sap was examined as a tool for studying plant delta(15)N relations. delta(15)N of xylem sap varied seasonally and between differently aged Acacia and other savanna species. Plants from annually burnt savanna had significantly higher delta(15)N values compared to plants from less frequently burnt savanna, suggesting that foliar N-15 natural abundance could be used as marker for assessing historic fire regimes. Australian woodland and savanna species had low leaf delta(15)N and N content compared to species from equivalent African communities indicating that Australian biota are the more N depauperate. The largest differences in leaf delta(15)N occurred between the dominant ECM Australian and African savanna (miombo) species, which were depleted and enriched in N-15, respectively. While the depleted delta(15)N of Australian ECM species are similar to those of previous reports on ECM species in natural plant communities, the N-15-enriched delta(15)N of African ECM species represent an anomaly.
Keyword Ecology
N-15 Natural Abundance
Fire
Mycorrhiza
Monsoon Forest
Savanna
N-15 Natural-abundance
Northern Australia
Foliar Delta-n-15
Rainfall Gradient
Plant
Trees
Nitrate
Discrimination
Availability
Vegetation
Q-Index Code C1

 
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 05:05:30 EST