Plant and Soil

, Volume 288, Issue 1–2, pp 297–307

Amino acid uptake in deciduous and coniferous taiga ecosystems

Original Paper


We measured in situ uptake of amino acids and ammonium across deciduous and coniferous taiga forest ecosystems in interior Alaska to examine the idea that late successional (coniferous) forests rely more heavily on dissolved organic nitrogen (DON), than do early successional (deciduous) ecosystems. We traced 15N-NH4+ and 13C-15N-amino acids from the soil solution into plant roots and soil pools over a 24 h period in stands of early successional willow and late successional black spruce. Late successional soils have much higher concentrations of amino acid in soil solution and a greater ratio of DON to dissolved inorganic N (DIN) (ammonium plus nitrate) than do early successional soils. Moreover, late successional coniferous forests exhibit higher rates of soil proteolytic activity, but lower rates of inorganic N turnover. Differences in ammonium and amino acid uptake by early successional willow stands were insignificant. By contrast, the in situ uptake of amino acid by late successional black spruce forests were approximately 4-fold greater than ammonium uptake. The relative difference in uptake of ammonium and amino acids in these forests was approximately proportional to the relative difference of these N forms in the soil solution. Thus, we suggest that differences in uptake of different N forms across succession in these boreal forests largely reflect edaphic variation in available soil N (composition), rather than any apparent physiological specialization to absorb particular forms of N. These finding are relevant to our understanding of how taiga ecosystems may respond to increases in temperature, fire frequency, N deposition, and other potential consequences of global change.


Amino acids Boreal ecosystems N cycling Nutrient uptake Taiga forests 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Arctic BiologyUniversity of AlaskaFairbanksUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biology and WildlifeUniversity of AlaskaFairbanksUSA

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