Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 10, Issue 8, pp 1453–1465 | Cite as

Long-term tree growth rate, water use efficiency, and tree ring nitrogen isotope composition of Pinus massoniana L. in response to global climate change and local nitrogen deposition in Southern China




We aimed to investigate long-term tree growth rates, water use efficiencies (WUE), and tree ring nitrogen (N) isotope compositions (δ15N) of Masson pine (Pinus massoniana L.) in response to global climate change and local N deposition in Southern China.

Materials and methods

Tree annual growth rings of Masson pine were collected from four forest sites, viz. South China Botanical Garden (SBG), Xi Qiao Shan (XQS) Forest Park, Ding Hu Shan (DHS) Natural Reserve, and Nan Kun Shan (NKS) Natural Reserve in Southern China. The mean annual basal area increment (BAI), WUE, and δ15N at every 5-year intervals of Masson pine during the last 50 years were determined. Regression analyses were used to quantify the relationships of BAI and WUE with atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]), temperature, rainfall, and tree ring elemental concentrations at the four study sites.

Results and discussion

Tree BAI showed a quadratic relationship with rising [CO2]. The tipping points of [CO2] for BAI, the peaks of BAI when the critical [CO2] was reached, occurred earlier at the sites of SBG, XQS, and DHS which were exposed to higher temperature, N deposition, and lower mineral nutrient availability, as compared with the tipping points of [CO2] for BAI at the site of NKS which had higher rainfall, lower temperature, and better nutritional status. The average tipping point of [CO2] at the four sites for the BAI response curves was 356 ppm, after which, the BAI would be expected to decrease quadratically with rising [CO2]. The multiple regressions of BAI confirmed the relationships of long-term tree growth rate with rainfall, tree WUE, and nutrients and δ15N in tree rings. Nonlinear relationships between BAI and tree ring δ15N at DHS and negatively linear one at NKS reflected the fertilization effect of N deposition on tree growth rate initially, but this effect peaked or became negative once the forest approached or passed the N saturation. Nonlinear relations of tree WUE with rising [CO2] and summer temperature were also observed.


The tipping points of [CO2] for tree BAI were not uniform, but depended on the site conditions, such as hydrological and nutritional constraints. Nonlinear relationships should be considered for predicting the dynamics of long-term tree growth rate and above-ground forest carbon (C) stock in response to future global climate change (particularly rising [CO2]) and local N deposition.


Basal area increment (BAI) Carbon sequestration Global climate change Masson pine Nitrogen deposition Tree ring 



This research was funded by Natural Science Foundation (NSF) of China (No. 30570349), NSF of Guangdong Province (No. 8151065005000016 and 8451065005001317), and the Agricultural and Forestry Promotion Program of Nanhai Agro-forestry Extension Centre, Guangdong Province (No. 084101001). The Special Innovative Fund from the CAS Graduates Science and Social Practice Program (No. 079999A001) to FF Sun was also kindly acknowledged. The authors thank Dr. Wanglu Jia for his assistance in stable isotope analysis. Zhihong Xu acknowledges the funding support from the Australian Research Council.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.South China Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Pearl River Delta Research Centre of Environmental Pollution and ControlChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina
  4. 4.Environmental Futures Centre, School of Biomolecular and Physical SciencesGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia
  5. 5.Agriculture and Forestry Technology Extension Centre of Nanhai DistrictGuangdongChina

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