Biogeochemistry

, Volume 128, Issue 1–2, pp 67–88 | Cite as

Nitrogen additions mobilize soil base cations in two tropical forests

  • Daniela F. Cusack
  • Jordan Macy
  • William H. McDowell
Article

Abstract

Rates of atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition are increasing rapidly in tropical regions, which are projected to receive some of the greatest deposition levels globally in the coming decades. Tropical forests on highly weathered soils generally have high N availability, so added N is not likely to stimulate plant growth. Instead, N addition to these soils may rapidly alter the availability of other scarcer nutrients like base cations, via displacement from soil exchange sites and mobilization into solution. We hypothesized that: (1.) Addition of mineral N to highly weathered tropical soils rapidly mobilizes base cations into solution, with increasing fertilization effects over time. (2.) Nitrogen fertilization reduces cation availability on soil exchange sites, because of increased mobilization and loss down the soil profile. We assessed the short-term (1–2 year) and mid-term (4–5 year) effects of N fertilization on base cation mobilization to 40 cm depths in two distinct tropical forests. Over the first 5 years of the experiment, fertilization significantly increased calcium, magnesium, and potassium concentrations in soil solution, as well as all dissolved N chemical species. There was an increasing fertilization effect over time for all solutes across soil depths, suggestive of downward leaching. Comparing the two forests, there was no difference in the magnitude or timing of the fertilization effect on base cation mobilization, although dissolved N concentrations increased most rapidly in the upper elevation forest, where background dissolved N was also higher. Surprisingly, salt-extractable base cations also increased for fertilized versus control soils. Our results suggest that addition of mineral N to tropical forests on highly weathered soils is highly likely to mobilize base cations into solution, with subsequent leaching down the soil profile. These results imply that N deposition in tropical forests on highly weathered soils may exacerbate cation scarcity in these ecosystems, and could negatively affect long-term plant growth.

Keywords

Rainforest Montane Puerto Rico Fertilization Nutrients Hurricane 

References

  1. Aber JD, Nadelhoffer KJ, Steudler P, Melillo JM (1989) Nitrogen saturation in northern forest ecosystems. Bioscience 39:378–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beinroth FH (1982) Some highly weathered soils of Puerto Rico. 1. Morphology, formation and classification. Geoderma 27:1–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blume LJ, Schumacher BA, Schaffer PW, Cappo KA, Papp ML, Remortel RDv, Coffey DS, Johnson MG, Chaloud. DJ (1990) Handbook of methods for acid deposition studies laboratory analyses for soil chemistry. In: (EPA) UEPA (ed) Environmental Monitoring Systems Laboratory, Las VegasGoogle Scholar
  4. Bray R, Kurtz L (1945) The determination of total, organic and available phosphorus in soils. Soil Sci 59:39–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brokaw NVL, Grear JS (1991) Forest structure before and after Hurricane Hugo at 3 elevations in the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto-Rico. Biotropica 23:386–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bruijnzeel LA (2001) Hydrology of tropical montane cloud forests: a reassessment. Land Use Water Resour Res 1:1–18Google Scholar
  7. Currie WS, Aber JD, Driscoll CT (1999) Leaching of nutrient cations from the forest floor: effects of nitrogen saturation in two long-term manipulations. Can J For Res 29:609–620CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cusack DF (2013) Soil nitrogen levels are linked to decomposition enzyme activities along an urban-remote tropical forest gradient. Soil Biol Biochem 57:192–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cusack DF, Silver W, McDowell WH (2009) Biological nitrogen fixation in two tropical forests: ecosystem-level patterns and effects of nitrogen fertilization. Ecosystems 12:1299–1315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cusack DF, Silver WL, Torn MS, McDowell WH (2011) Effects of nitrogen additions on above- and belowground carbon dynamics in two tropical forests. Biogeochemistry 104:203–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dentener F, Drevet J, Lamarque JF, Bey I, Eickhout B, Fiore AM, Hauglustaine D, Horowitz LW, Krol M, Kulshrestha UC, Lawrence M, Galy-Lacaux C, Rast S, Shindell D, Stevenson D, Van Noije T, Atherton C, Bell N, Bergman D, Butler T, Cofala J, Collins B, Doherty R, Ellingsen K, Galloway J, Gauss M, Montanaro V, Muller JF, Pitari G, Rodriguez J, Sanderson M, Solmon F, Strahan S, Schultz M, Sudo K, Szopa S, Wild O (2006) Nitrogen and sulfur deposition on regional and global scales: a multimodel evaluation. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 20:GB4003CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dijkstra FA, Hobbie SE, Knops JMH, Reich PB (2004) Nitrogen deposition and plant species interact to influence soil carbon stabilization. Ecol Lett 7:1192–1198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Doane TA, Horwath WR (2003) Spectrophotometric determination of nitrate with a single reagent. Anal Lett 36:2713–2722CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Elvir JA, Rustad L, Wiersma GB, Fernandez I, White AS, White GJ (2005) Eleven-year response of foliar chemistry to chronic nitrogen and sulfur additions at the Bear Brook Watershed in Maine. Can J For Res 35:1402–1410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fang Y, Yoh M, Koba K, Zhu W, Takebayashi YU, Xiao Y, Lei C, Mo J, Zhang WEI, Lu X (2011) Nitrogen deposition and forest nitrogen cycling along an urban-rural transect in southern China. Glob Change Biol 17:872–885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fernandez IJ, Rustad LE, Norton SA, Kahl JS, Cosby BJ (2003) Experimental acidification causes soil base-cation depletion at the Bear Brook Watershed in Maine. Soil Sci Soc Am J 67:1909–1919CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fox RL (1982) Some highly weathered soils of Puerto Rico. 3. Chemical properties. Geoderma 27:139–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Frank K, Beegle D, Denning J (1998) Phosphorus. In: Brown J (ed) Recommended chemical soil test procedures for the North Central Region. North Central Regional Research Publication, Columbia, pp 21–31Google Scholar
  19. Galloway JN, Dentener FJ, Capone DG, Boyer EW, Howarth RW, Seitzinger SP, Asner GP, Cleveland CC, Green PA, Holland EA, Karl DM, Michaels AF, Porter JH, Townsend AR, Vorosmarty CJ (2004) Nitrogen cycles: past, present, and future. Biogeochemistry 70:153–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Garcia-Montino AR, Warner GS, Scatena FN, Civco DL (1996) Rainfall, runoff and elevation relationships in the Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico. Caribb J Sci 32:413–424Google Scholar
  21. Groffman PM, Williams CO, Pouyat RV, Band LE, Yesilonis ID (2009) Nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide flux in urban forests and grasslands. J Environ Qual 38:1848–1860CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gundersen P, Emmett BA, Kjonaas OJ, Koopmans CJ, Tietema A (1998) Impact of nitrogen deposition on nitrogen cycling in forests: a synthesis of NITREX data. For Ecol Manag 101:37–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gundersen P, Schmidt IK, Raulund-Rasmussen K (2006) Leaching of nitrate from temperate forests—effects of air pollution and forest management. Environ Rev 14:1–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Harrington RA, Fownes JH, Vitousek PM (2001) Production and resource use efficiencies in N- and P-limited tropical forests: a comparison of responses to long-term fertilization. Ecosystems 4:646–657CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Harris N, Lugo A, Brown S & Heartsill Scalley T (eds) (2012) Luquillo Experimental Forest: research history and opportunities experimental forests and ranges EFR-1. USDA Forest ServiceGoogle Scholar
  26. Heartsill-Scalley T, Scatena FN, Estrada C, McDowell WH, Lugo AE (2007) Disturbance and long-term patterns of rainfall and throughfall nutrient fluxes in a subtropical wet forest in Puerto Rico. J Hydrol 333:472–485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Heartsill-Scalley TH, Scatena FN, Lugo AE, Moya S, Ruiz CRE (2010) Changes in structure, composition, and nutrients during 15 yr of hurricane-induced succession in a subtropical wet forest in Puerto Rico. Biotropica 42:455–463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hogberg P, Fan HB, Quist M, Binkley D, Tamm CO (2006) Tree growth and soil acidification in response to 30 years of experimental nitrogen loading on boreal forest. Glob Change Biol 12:489–499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Holdridge L, Grenke W, Hatheway W, Liang T, Tosi J (1971) Forest environments in tropical life zones. Pergamon Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. Huffaker L (2002) Soil survey of the Caribbean National Forest and Luquillo Experimental Forest, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Interim Publication). US Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  31. Huntington TG (2005) Assessment of calcium status in Maine forests: review and future projection. Can J For Res 35:1109–1121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ingerslev M, Malkonen E, Nilsen P, Nohrstedt HO, Oskarsson H, Raulund-Rasmussen K (2001) Main findings and future challenges in forest nutritional research and management in the Nordic countries. Scand J For Res 16:488–501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jackson RB, Cook CW, Pippen JS, Palmer SM (2009) Increased belowground biomass and soil CO2 fluxes after a decade of carbon dioxide enrichment in a warm-temperate forest. Ecology 90:3352–3366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Johnson DW, Reuss JO (1984) Soil-mediated effects of atmospherically deposited surfur and nitrogen. Philos Trans R Soc Lond Ser B 305:383–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jones RC, Hudnall WH, Sakai WS (1982) Some highly weathered soils pf Puerto Rico. 2. Mineralogy. Geoderma 27:75–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jones DL, Dennis PG, Owen AG, van Hees PAW (2003) Organic acid behavior in soils—misconceptions and knowledge gaps. Plant Soil 248:31–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kaspari M, Garcia MN, Harms KE, Santana M, Wright SJ, Yavitt JB (2008) Multiple nutrients limit litterfall and decomposition in a tropical forest. Ecol Lett 11:35–43Google Scholar
  38. Krusche AV, de Camargo PB, Cerri CE, Ballester MV, Lara L, Victoria RL, Martinelli LA (2003) Acid rain and nitrogen deposition in a sub-tropical watershed (Piracicaba): ecosystem consequences. Environ Pollut 121:389–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lara L, Artaxo P, Martinelli LA, Victoria RL, Camargo PB, Krusche A, Ayers GP, Ferraz ESB, Ballester MV (2001) Chemical composition of rainwater and anthropogenic influences in the Piracicaba River Basin, Southeast Brazil. Atmos Environ 35:4937–4945CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Liptzin D, Silver WL, Detto M (2011) Temporal dynamics in soil oxygen and greenhouse gases in two humid tropical forests. Ecosystems 14:171–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lohse KA, Matson P (2005) Consequences of nitrogen additions for soil losses from wet tropical forests. Ecol Appl 15:1629–1648CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lu X-K, Mo J-M, Gundersern P, Zhu W-X, Zhou G-Y, Li D-J, Zhang X (2009) Effect of simulated N deposition on soil exchangeable cations in three forest types of subtropical China. Pedosphere 19:189–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lu X, Mo J, Gilliam FS, Yu G, Zhang W, Fang Y, Huang J (2011) Effects of experimental nitrogen additions on plant diversity in tropical forests of contrasting disturbance regimes in southern China. Environ Pollut 159:2228–2235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lucas RW, Klaminder J, Futter MN, Bishop KH, Egnell G, Laudon H, Hogberg P (2011) A meta-analysis of the effects of nitrogen additions on base cations: implications for plants, soils, and streams. For Ecol Manag 262:95–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lugo AE (1992) Comparison of tropical tree plantations with secondary forests of similar age. Ecol Monogr 62:1–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Luh Huang C, Schulte E (1985) Digestion of plant tissue for analysis by ICP emission spectrometry. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 16:943–958CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Magill AH, Aber JD, Hendricks JJ, Bowden RD, Melillo JM, Steudler PA (1997) Biogeochemical response of forest ecosystems to simulated chronic nitrogen deposition. Ecol Appl 7:402–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Martinelli LA, Piccolo MC, Townsend AR, Vitousek PM, Cuevas E, McDowell W, Robertson GP, Santos OC, Treseder K (1999) Nitrogen stable isotopic composition of leaves and soil: tropical versus temperate forests. Biogeochemistry 46:45–65Google Scholar
  49. Martinelli LA, Howarth RW, Cuevas E, Filoso S, Austin AT, Donoso L, Huszar V, Keeney D, Lara LL, Llerena C, McIssac G, Medina E, Ortiz-Zayas J, Scavia D, Schindler DW, Soto D, Townsend A (2006) Sources of reactive nitrogen affecting ecosystems in Latin America and the Caribbean: current trends and future perspectives. Biogeochemistry 79:3–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Matschonat G, Matzner E (1996) Soil chemical properties affecting NH4 + sorption in forest soils. Z Pflanzen Bodenk 159:505–511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Matson PA, McDowell WH, Townsend AR, Vitousek PM (1999) The globalization of N deposition: ecosystem consequences in tropical environments. Biogeochemistry 46:67–83Google Scholar
  52. McDonnell MJ, Pickett STA, Groffman P, Bohlen P, Pouyat R, Zipperer WC, Parmelee RW, Carreiro MM, Medley KE (1997) Ecosystem processes along an urban-to-rural gradient. Urban Ecosyst 1:21–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. McDowell WH, Asbury CE (1994) Export of carbon, nitrogen, and major ions from three tropical montane watersheds. Limnol Oceanogr 39:111–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. McDowell WH, Bowden WB, Asbury CE (1992) Riparian nitrogen dynamics in 2-geomorphologically distinct tropical rain-forest watersheds—subsurface solute patterns. Biogeochemistry 18:53–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. McDowell WH, McSwiney CP, Bowden WB (1996) Effects of hurricane disturbance on groundwater chemistry and riparian function in a tropical rain forest. Biotropica 28:577–584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. McDowell WH, Scatena FN, Waide RB, Lodge DJ, Brokaw NV, Camilo GR, Covich AP, Crowl TA, Gonzalez G, Greathouse EA, Klawinski P, Lugo AE, Pringle CM, Richardson BA, Richardson MJ, Schaefer DA, Silver WL, Thompson J, Vogt D, Vogt K, Willig M, Woolbright L, Zou X, Zimmerman J (2012) Geographic and Ecological Setting. In: Brokaw N, Crowl TA, Lugo AE, McDowell WH, Scatena FN, Waide RB, Willig MW (eds) Disturbance and response in a tropical forest. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  57. McDowell WH, Brereton RL, Scatena FN, Shanley JB, Brokaw NV, Lugo AE (2013) Interactions between lithology and biology drive the long-term response of stream chemistry to major hurricanes in a tropical landscape. Biogeochemistry 116:175–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. McGroddy M, Silver WL (2000) Variations in belowground carbon storage and soil CO2 flux rates along a wet tropical climate gradient. Biotropica 32:614–624CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Merriam J, McDowell WH, Currie WS (1996) A high-temperature catalytic oxidation technique for determining total dissolved nitrogen. Soil Sci Soc Am J 60:1050–1055CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Minocha R, Long S, Magill AH, Aber J, McDowell WH (2000) Foliar free polyamine and inorganic ion content in relation to soil and soil solution chemistry in two fertilized forest stands at the Harvard Forest, Massachusetts. Plant Soil 222:119–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Mirmanto E, Proctor J, Green J, Nagy L, Suriantata (1999) Effects of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization in a lowland evergreen rainforest. Philos Trans R Soc Lond Ser B 354:1825–1829CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Mitchell AD, Smethurst PJ (2008) Base cation availability and leaching after nitrogen fertilisation of a eucalypt plantation. Aust J Soil Res 46:445–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Nadelhoffer KJ, Downs MR, Fry B, Aber JD, Magill AH, Melillo JM (1995) The fate of N-15-labeled nitrate additions to a northern hardwood forest in eastern Maine, USA. Oecologia 103:292–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. NADP/NTN (2013) NADP/NTN monitoring location PR20, annual data summaries. National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP)/National Trends Network (NTN)Google Scholar
  65. Nilsen P (2001) Fertilization experiments on forest mineral soils: a review of the Norwegian results. Scand J For Res 16:541–554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. NOAA (2012) Tropical storms and Hurricanes which passed within two degrees of latitude of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands from 1515 to presentGoogle Scholar
  67. Nohrstedt HO (2001) Response of coniferous forest ecosystems on mineral soils to nutrient additions: a review of Swedish experiences. Scand J For Res 16:555–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Oh NH, Hofmockel M, Lavine ML, Richter DD (2007) Did elevated atmospheric CO2 alter soil mineral weathering?: an analysis of 5-year soil water chemistry data at Duke FACE study. Glob Change Biol 13:2626–2641CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Ostertag R (2001) Effects of nitrogen and phosphorus availability on fine-root dynamics in Hawaiian montane forests. Ecology 82:485–499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Pennings SC, Clark CM, Cleland EE, Collins SL, Gough L, Gross KL, Milchunas DG, Suding KN (2005) Do individual plant species show predictable responses to nitrogen addition across multiple experiments? Oikos 110:547–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Pouyat RV, McDonnell MJ, Pickett STA (1995) Soil characteristics of oak stands along an urban-rural land-use gradient. J Environ Qual 24:516–526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Rhine ED, Sims GK, Mulvaney RL, Pratt EJ (1998) Improving the berthelot reaction for determining ammonium in soil extracts and water. Soil Sci Soc Am J 62:473–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Ross DS, Bailey SW, Briggs R, Curry J, Fernandez IJ, Fredriksen G, Goodale CL, Hazlett PW, Heine PR, Johnson CE, Larson JT, Lawrence GB, Kolka RK, Ouimet R, Paré D, Richter DD, Schirmer CD, Warby RA (2015) Inter-laboratory variation in the chemical analysis of acidic forest soil reference samples from eastern North America. Ecosphere 6:73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Saarsalmi A, Malkonen E (2001) Forest fertilization research in Finland: a literature review. Scand J For Res 16:514–535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Sanchez P, Logan J (1992) Myths and science about the chemistry and fertility of soils in the tropics. In: Lal R, Sanchez P (eds) Myths and science of soils in the tropics. Soil Science Society of America, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  76. Scatena FN, Silver W, Siccama T, Johnson A, Sanchez MJ (1993) Biomass and nutrient content of the Bisley experimental watersheds, Luquillo-Experimental-Forest, Puerto-Rico, before and after Hurricane-Hugo, 1989. Biotropica 25:15–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Schaefer DA, McDowell WH, Scatena FN, Asbury CE (2000) Effects of hurricane disturbance on stream water concentrations and fluxes in eight tropical forest watersheds of the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico. J Trop Ecol 16:189–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Silver WL, Scatena FN, Johnson AH, Siccama TG, Watt F (1996) At what temporal scales does disturbance affect belowground nutrient pools? Biotropica 28:441–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Silver WL, Lugo AE, Keller M (1999) Soil oxygen availability and biogeochemistry along rainfall and topographic gradients in upland wet tropical forest soils. Biogeochemistry 44:301–328Google Scholar
  80. Templer PH, Silver WL, Pett-Ridge J, DeAngelis KM, Firestone MK (2008) Plant and microbial controls on nitrogen retention and loss in a humid tropical forest. Ecology 89:3030–3040CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Turner BL, Romero TE (2009) Short-term changes in extractable inorganic nutrients during storage of tropical rain forest soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 73:1972–1979CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Turner BL, Yavitt JB, Harms KE, Garcia MN, Romero TE, Wright SJ (2013) Seasonal changes and treatment effects on soil inorganic nutrients following a decade of fertilizer addition in a lowland tropical forest. Soil Sci Soc Am J 77:1357–1369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Van Miegroet H, Cole DW (1984) The impact of nitrification on soil acidification and cation leaching in a red alder Alnus rubra ecosystem. J Environ Qual 13:586–590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Walker TW, Syers JK (1976) The fate of phosphorus during pedogenesis. Geoderma 15:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. White CS, McDonnell MJ (1988) Nitrogen cycling processes and soil characteristics in an urban versus rural forest. Biogeochemistry 5:243–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Yanai RD, Siccama TG, Arthur MA, Federer CA, Friedland AJ (1999) Accumulation and depletion of base cations in forest floors in the northeastern United States. Ecology 80:2774–2787CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Zhu WX, Carreiro MM (1999) Chemoautotrophic nitrification in acidic forest soils along an urban-to-rural transect. Soil Biol Biochem 31:1091–1100CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniela F. Cusack
    • 1
  • Jordan Macy
    • 2
  • William H. McDowell
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Natural Resources and the EnvironmentUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

Personalised recommendations