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Data from: Land-use legacies influence tree water-use efficiency and nitrogen dynamics in recently established European forests

Citation

Guerrieri, Rossella et al. (2021), Data from: Land-use legacies influence tree water-use efficiency and nitrogen dynamics in recently established European forests, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.j0zpc86db

Abstract

1. Forest regrowth following farmland (agriculture and pasture) abandonment has been positively associated with a number of processes including the regulation of hydrological cycling, the enhancement of soil functioning, and an increase in forest productivity and carbon (C) sequestration. Although these changes in ecosystem functioning post-farmland abandonment have been observed in multiple locations and studies, the ecophysiological basis underpinning these patterns remains unclear. Here, we examine whether increased forest expansion following pastureland abandonment is associated with greater water-use efficiency (WUE) and legacies from previous land use in terms of nitrogen (N) availability.

2. We thus explored differences in leaf traits and N availability between recently established (post-1950) beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) forests on former pastureland and long-established beech forests (pre-1950). The investigated leaf traits were leaf specific area (SLA), leaf N concentration (%N) and intrinsic WUE (iWUE, i.e. the ratio between photosynthesis and stomatal conductance); as well, leaf and soil stable N isotope composition (δ15N) and total %N were used to assess changes in N availability. Finally, we compared the correlation strength between the above-mentioned parameters and those associated with tree productivity (wood density and basal area increment, BAI) and the richness of ectomycorrhizal fungi (ECM) in these two forest types.

3. Recent forests had greater iWUE than long-established forests, which was associated more with lower SLA than leaf %N. Leaf and soil δ15N were more robust proxies than %N for detecting differences in N availability. Less negative leaf and soil δ15N values in recent vs. long-established forests suggest, on one hand, greater N availability, probably due to higher historical N input originating from animal excreta on these former pasturelands, and, on the other, an increase in N loss pathways.

4. Our results point to greater correlations between leaf δ15N, tree iWUE, and productivity in recent forests than in long-established forests, thereby suggesting a close link between C and N cycles. Our findings also highlight different N dynamics between the two forest types, with recent forests showing ‘leaky’ N cycling wherever lower N retention by trees and associated ECM fungi occurs as a legacy of previous land use.

Methods

For details on experimental sites, leaf and soil sampling and chemical and stable isotope analyses please refer to the Materials and Methods in the paper by Guerrieri et al. "Land-use legacies influence tree water-use efficiency and nitrogen dynamics in recently established European forests."

Usage Notes

Resources shared are listed below:

1- "Guerrieri_et_al_metadata"- details of all the parameters included in the datasets;

2- "Guerrieri_et_al_LeafData" - dataset including site and tree parameters and all leaf traits;

3- "Guerrieri_et_al_SoilData" -  subset where both leaf traits and soil parameters were measured. 

Funding

European Commission, Award: APCIN_2016_0174

European Commission, Award: RTI2018-099397-B-C22 MCIU/AEI/ERDF

Generalitat de Catalunya, Award: SGR913