, Volume 127, Issue 1, pp 113–124 | Cite as

Response of forest soil respiration to nutrient addition depends on site fertility

  • Hongzhang Kang
  • Timothy J. FaheyEmail author
  • Kikang Bae
  • Melany Fisk
  • Ruth E. Sherman
  • Ruth D. Yanai
  • Craig R. See


Flux of CO2 from the forest soil surface (\({\text{F}}_{{{\text{CO}}_{ 2} }}\)) reflects the activity of roots and microbes responding to plant and soil properties that are influenced by global changes such as nitrogen deposition and increasing temperature and atmospheric CO2. We added low levels of N (3 g/m2-year), P (1 g/m2-year) or N + P to thirteen northern hardwood stands of different age and soil N cycling and measured soil respiration, microbial respiration and fine root turnover. We hypothesized that soil respiration would decline in response to nutrient addition, but that this response would vary depending on forest age and N cycling rate. Soil respiration was significantly higher in successional (<40-year-old) than mature stands (>90-year-old). Overall, no significant treatment effects or age x treatment interactions were observed. However, on an individual stand basis, significantly lower soil respiration was observed in nutrient addition plots at four of the most infertile sites. Over half of the variation in the response ratio (fertilized-control/control) of soil respiration to fertilization was explained by using pre-treatment N cycling rate as a predictor: i.e., the greatest reduction in soil respiration on N and N + P fertilized plots occurred on the sites with lowest pre-treatment soil N mineralization and litterfall N flux. Nutrient additions did not significantly affect either fine root turnover (minirhizotrons) or microbial respiration (laboratory incubations). Perhaps responses of fine root biomass or rhizosphere C flux influenced the  response of soil respiration to increasing soil fertility.


Fine root Microbial Nitrogen Northern hardwood Phosphorus 



For their contributions to this research the authors thank S. Hamburg and M. Vadeboncouer who helped establish the study; many student assistants in the field and laboratory; and F. Vermeulen for statistical consulting. This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (DEB 1114804; DEB 0949854).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hongzhang Kang
    • 1
  • Timothy J. Fahey
    • 2
    Email author
  • Kikang Bae
    • 3
    • 4
  • Melany Fisk
    • 5
  • Ruth E. Sherman
    • 2
  • Ruth D. Yanai
    • 3
  • Craig R. See
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Agriculture and BiologyShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Forest and Natural Resources ManagementSUNY College of Environmental Science and ForestrySyracuseUSA
  4. 4.International Cooperation DivisionInternational Affairs Bureau, Korea Forest ServiceDaejeonRepublic of Korea
  5. 5.Department of BiologyMiami UniversityOxfordUSA

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