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Data from: Drought and soil nutrients effects on symbiotic nitrogen fixation in seedlings from eight Neotropical legume species

Citation

McCulloch, Lindsay; Piotto, Daniel; Porder, Stephen (2020), Data from: Drought and soil nutrients effects on symbiotic nitrogen fixation in seedlings from eight Neotropical legume species, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.wh70rxwm7

Abstract

Symbiotic nitrogen fixation is a dominant source of nitrogen to many terrestrial ecosystems, and thus may influence their responses to global change. High legume species diversity and abundance are thought to lead to high rates of symbiotic nitrogen fixation in Neotropical forests. However, how changes in water and nutrient availability will affect symbiotic nitrogen fixation have only recently been explored, even as droughts begin to increase in severity and frequency in the Neotropics.  To explore these effects, we grew eight species of Neotropical woody legume seedlings in a shadehouse for four months while manipulating soil water, phosphorus and molybdenum availability. Overall, drought reduced nodule biomass, nitrogenase activity (acetylene reduction g-1 nodule), and acetylene reduction per seedling by 33%, 27%, and 41%, respectively, but reduced seedling biomass by only 18%.  Species varied in the manifestation of drought effects. For example, drought reduced the probability that nodules formed in some species, but in others reduced the nitrogenase activity or acetylene reduction per seedling.  In contrast, the effects of phosphorus and molybdenum availability were more species-specific. However, fertilization did affect (both positively and negatively) one or more symbiotic nitrogen fixation response variables in two of the eight species. Our results indicate drought reduces symbiotic nitrogen fixation in Neotropical legume seedlings, but the mechanism of response may be species-specific.  Therefore, predicting the response of symbiotic nitrogen fixation in the Neotropics to a changing climate, with expected increases in drought frequency and severity, may require grappling with the diversity of responses among nitrogen-fixing legumes.

Methods

Acetylene reduction assay and seedling biomass data from a greenhouse experiment in Bahia, Brazil with seedlings from eight Neotropical legume species that examined the effect of drought and soil nutrients.

Funding

Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, Brown University