Nitrogen addition method affects growth and nitrogen accumulation in seedlings of four subtropical tree species: Schima superba Gardner & Champ., Pinus massoniana Lamb., Acacia mangium Willd., and Ormosia pinnata Lour

  • Ting Wu
  • Wei Lin
  • Yiyong Li
  • Zhiyang Lie
  • Wenjuan Huang
  • Juxiu LiuEmail author
Research Paper


Key message

N addition (56, 156, and 206 kg N ha−1 yr−1as dissolved NH4NO3) method (canopy vs soil) did not affect the biomass of N2-fixers (Acacia mangium Willd. and Ormosia pinnata Lour.), but significantly affected the biomass of non-N2-fixers (Schima superba Gardner & Champ., Pinus massoniana Lamb.). Coniferous species exposed to N addition on the canopy rather than the soil had higher N accumulation.


Previous experiments simulating nitrogen (N) addition in forests were conducted by adding N fertilizer directly to soils, which neglects the fact that N uptake can be done by canopy leaves.


The objective of this study is to examine how different N addition methods (canopy vs soil) affect growth and N accumulation of four subtropical tree seedlings.


An open-air greenhouse experiment was conducted to expose four tree species (Schima superba Gardner & Champ., Pinus massoniana Lamb., Acacia mangium Willd. and Ormosia pinnata Lour.) to different N addition methods (canopy or soil) and N levels (ambient, medium, or high).


N addition method affected the biomass of non-N2-fixers (Schima superba Gardner & Champ. and Pinus massoniana Lamb.), while N2-fixers (Acacia mangium Willd. and Ormosia pinnata Lour.) were unaffected. N concentrations in the soils and leaves of all trees were significantly increased by the medium and high N additions, and soil N concentrations resulted from N addition via soil rather than the canopy. Although leaf N concentration was significantly affected by N addition method in all trees except for Ormosia pinnata, only N accumulation in Pinus massoniana was significantly affected by N addition method.


N addition method affected the biomass of non-N2-fixers and N accumulation in coniferous species, while it did not affect the biomass of N2-fixers and N accumulation in broadleaf species.


Soil N addition Canopy N addition N accumulation N2-fixers Subtropical trees 


Author contribution statement:

Project preparation: Liu JX. Experiment design: Huang WJ. Experiment work: Li YY nad Lie ZY. Data analysis: Lin W and Wu T. Manuscript draft: Liu JX and Wu T. Manuscript editing: All authors have studied and approved the final manuscript.


This study was jointly funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 31570482, 31670487 and 41430529), Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences, CAS (Y621231001), and the Guangdong Hundred, Thousand, and Ten Thousand Talents Program.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Vegetation Restoration and Management of Degraded Ecosystems, South China Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Foshan Research Institute of ForestryFoshanChina
  4. 4.Colledge of Forestry and Landscape ArchitectureAnhui Agricultural UniversityHefeiChina
  5. 5.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal BiologyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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