Skip to main content
Log in

Fine root dynamics responses to nitrogen addition depend on root order, soil layer, and experimental duration in a subtropical forest

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
Biology and Fertility of Soils Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Elevated atmospheric N deposition has been well documented to enhance fine root production in N-limited temperate forests, but how fine roots respond to N deposition in N-rich tropical and subtropical forests remains poorly understood. The sequential coring and minirhizotron methods were applied to quantify fine root biomass, production, and turnover of a N-rich but P-limited subtropical forest in southern China and to assess the responses of these root variables to a gradient of N additions (control (0), low-N (35), medium-N (70), and high-N (105 kg N ha−1 year−1)) during the first 3 years of experimentation. The high- and medium-N additions significantly reduced fine root diameter by about 30% but increased the specific root length by 20–105%, i.e., fine roots became thinner and longer under the experimental N addition. Both low- and medium-N additions generally stimulated fine root production (10–88%) and turnover (3–40%), whereas high-N suppressed them by 32–70% and 8–54%, respectively, varying with sampling season and estimation method. The stimulatory effects were presumably ascribed to the increased fine root growth for P acquisition, the suppressive effect, to the deleterious damage to the root health and micronutrient availability. Overall, the N effects were more pronounced in the surface (0–10 cm) than in the deeper (10–40 cm) soil layers and for the first-order than the higher-order fine roots. Our results indicate that lower-order absorptive fine roots are responsive to elevated N deposition, and complex responses could emerge due to the interactive influences of the N deposition rate, seasonality, and soil depth.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7

Similar content being viewed by others

References

Download references

Acknowledgments

We thank the Dinghushan forest ecosystem research station, CAS, for platform support, and we thank Yanxia Nie, Shengnan Ouyang and Weiren Wang for their helps with the field sampling. Three anonymous reviewers provided constructive comments that helped the revision of the manuscript.

Funding

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31425005, 31290222), and the National Ten Thousand Talents Program.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

WS and WW conceived the ideas and designed the study; WW, QM, and XH collected the samples and analyzed the data; DH took part in writing and data analysis; all authors contributed to the writing and revision of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Weijun Shen.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material

ESM 1

(DOCX 1104 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wang, W., Mo, Q., Han, X. et al. Fine root dynamics responses to nitrogen addition depend on root order, soil layer, and experimental duration in a subtropical forest. Biol Fertil Soils 55, 723–736 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00374-019-01386-3

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00374-019-01386-3

Keywords

Navigation