, Volume 174, Issue 3, pp 679–687 | Cite as

Nitrogen storage dynamics are affected by masting events in Fagus crenata

  • Qingmin HanEmail author
  • Daisuke Kabeya
  • Atsuhiro Iio
  • Yoshiyuki Inagaki
  • Yoshitaka Kakubari
Physiological ecology - Original research


It is generally assumed that the production of a large crop of seeds depletes stores of resources and that these take more than 1 year to replenish; this is accepted, theoretically, as the proximate mechanism of mast seeding (resource budget model). However, direct evidence of resource depletion in masting trees is very rare. Here, we trace seasonal and inter-annual variations in nitrogen (N) concentration and estimate the N storage pool of individuals after full masting of Fagus crenata in two stands. In 2005, a full masting year, the amount of N in fruit litter represented half of the N present in mature leaves in an old stand (age 190–260 years), and was about equivalent to the amount of N in mature leaves in a younger stand (age 83–84 years). Due to this additional burden, both tissue N concentration and individual N storage decreased in 2006; this was followed by significant replenishment in 2007, although a substantial N store remained even after full masting. These results indicate that internal storage may be important and that N may be the limiting factor for fruiting. In the 4 years following full masting, the old stand experienced two moderate masting events separated by 2 years, whilst trees in the younger stand did not fruit. This different fruiting behavior may be related to different “costs of reproduction” in the full masting year 2005, thus providing more evidence that N may limit fruiting. Compared to the non-fruiting stand, individuals in the fruiting stand exhibited an additional increase in N concentrations in roots early in the 2007 growing season, suggesting additional N uptake from the soil to supply resource demand. The enhanced uptake may alleviate the N storage depletion observed in the full masting year. This study suggests that masting affects N cycle dynamics in mature Fagus crenata and N may be one factor limiting fruiting.


Internal store Japanese beech Reproduction Resource budget Seed 



The authors thank Akinori Yamamoto, University of Tsukuba, for assistance with the nitrogen analysis; Masaaki Naramoto and the students of the silvicultural laboratory, Shizuoka University, for litter collection and analysis as well as providing data about the mature leaf nitrogen concentrations in 2008 and 2009; Yukihiro Chiba for suggestions on biomass estimation; and Tatsuro Kawasaki for assistance with field sampling. The authors thank the editor and the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. The SAS/STAT applications were performed with the assistance of the Computer Center for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Research, MAFFIN, Japan. This research was supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (nos. 18580155 and 21380103) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qingmin Han
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Daisuke Kabeya
    • 1
  • Atsuhiro Iio
    • 3
    • 5
  • Yoshiyuki Inagaki
    • 4
  • Yoshitaka Kakubari
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Plant EcologyForestry and Forest Products Research Institute (FFPRI)TsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Hokkaido Research Center, FFPRISapporoJapan
  3. 3.Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of ShizuokaShizuokaJapan
  4. 4.Department of Forest Site EnvironmentFFPRITsukubaJapan
  5. 5.Center for Education and Research in Field Sciences, Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of ShizuokaHamamatsu, ShizuokaJapan

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