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Data from: Nitrogen saturation in humid tropical forests after 6 years of nitrogen and phosphorus addition: hypothesis testing

Citation

Chen, Hao et al. (2015), Data from: Nitrogen saturation in humid tropical forests after 6 years of nitrogen and phosphorus addition: hypothesis testing, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m2p20

Abstract

Nitrogen (N) saturation hypothesis suggests that when an ecosystem reaches N-saturation, continued N input will cause increased N leaching, nitrous oxide (N2O) emission, and N mineralization and nitrification rates. It also suggests that a different element will become the main limiting factor when N saturation has been reached. Although this hypothesis has been tested in temperate forests, whether they can be directly applied to N-saturated tropical forests remain poorly addressed. To test this hypothesis, soil inorganic N, soil N mineralization and nitrification rate, soil N2O emission rate and nitrate (inline image) leaching rate were measured in an N-saturated old-growth tropical forest in southern China, after 6 years of N and P addition. We hypothesized that N addition would stimulate further N saturation, but P addition might alleviate N saturation. As expected, our results showed that six continuous years of experimental N addition did cause further N saturation, which was indicated by significant increases in soil inorganic N concentration, N2O emission and nitrate (inline image) leaching. However, in contrast to our expectations, N addition significantly decreased in situ rates of net N mineralization and nitrification, which could be related to associated changes in enzyme activity and microbial community composition. On the other hand, P addition mitigated N saturation, as expected. Soil inorganic N concentration, N2O emission and inline image leaching decreased significantly after P addition, but the net rates of N mineralization and nitrification were significantly increased. Our results provide a new understanding of the N saturation hypothesis, suggesting that the effects of long-term N deposition on net N mineralization and nitrification rates in N-saturated tropical forests can be negative and that P addition can alleviate N saturation in such tropical systems.

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Location

China