Skip to main content

Growth and nutrient stoichiometry responses to N and P fertilization of 8-year old Masson pines (Pinus massoniana) in subtropical China

Abstract

Background

Masson pine (Pinus massoniana) plantations are one of the most common forestry plantations in southern China. A high proportion of these plantations is managed as monoculture forests. Productivity in these plantations often declines as they age due to stand retrogression. In these plantations, fertilization is a key practice to prevent stand retrogression. Understanding how plants respond to nutrient fertilization at the tree and stand-level is crucial for evaluating the effects of fertilization and devising nutrient management strategies to prevent stand retrogression and to maintain plantation productivity.

Methods

To determine the effects of nutrient fertilization on plant growth and nutrient stoichiometry, we conducted a nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization experiment in an 8-year old Masson pine plantation in subtropical Hubei Province, China. Plant growth and nutrient stoichiometry responses to fertilization were determined over 12 months.

Results

Tree growth in height and trunk diameter and resorption efficiency of both N and P responded positively to N and/or P fertilization. Soil total P concentration was low (0.32 mg/g). Leaf N:P ratio was high and increased (>20) in N fertilization but decreased (<9) in P fertilization.

Conclusions

Our results show that Masson pine plantations of the study area are severely P limited, with low soil P concentration, high leaf N:P ratio, and positive growth responses to P fertilization. As the most common forestry plantations in subtropical and tropical China, P limitation is likely to be a widespread problem facing the Masson pine plantation industry. Thus nutrient fertilization of Masson pine plantations in comparable contexts should focus on P management.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

Data availability

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

References

  • Ali A, Ahmad A, Akhtar K, Teng MJ, Zeng WS, Yan ZG, Zhou ZX (2019) Patterns of biomass, carbon, and soil properties in Masson pine (Pinus massoniana lamb) plantations with different stand ages and management practices. Forests 10

  • Allen SE (1989) Chemical analysis of ecological materials. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Barros IB, Cacalcante VS, Moulin AS, da Silva IR, de Barros NF, Vergutz L, Valadares SV (2021) Integrating forest residue and mineral fertilization: effects on nutrient acquisition, nutrient use efficiency and growth of eucalypt plants. For Ecol Manag 496

  • Bremner JM, Tabatabai MA (1972) Use of an ammonia electrode for determination of ammonium in Kjeldahl analysis of soils. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 3:159–165

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chen FS, Fahey TJ, Yu MY, Gan L (2010) Key nitrogen cycling processes in pine plantations along a short urban-rural gradient in Nanchang, China. For Ecol Manag 259:477–486

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chen FS, Niklas KJ, Liu Y, Fang XM, Wan SZ, Wang H (2015) Nitrogen and phosphorus additions alter nutrient dynamics but not resorption efficiencies of Chinese fir leaves and twigs differing in age. Tree Physiol 35:1106–1117

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cohen J (1988) Statisitical power analysis for the behavioral sciences, Second edn. Hillsdale, New Jersey, USA

    Google Scholar 

  • Department of Forest Resource Management (2010) China's forest resource status and dynamic change-based on analysis of the seventh national forest resource inventory results. For Econ 7:42e48

    Google Scholar 

  • Elser JJ, Sterner RW, Gorokhova E, Fagan WF, Markow TA, Cotner JB, Harrison JF, Hobbie SE, Odell GM, Weider LJ (2000) Biological stoichiometry from genes to ecosystems. Ecol Lett 3:540–550

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Elser JJ, Acharya K, Kyle M, Cotner J, Makino W, Markow T, Watts T, Hobbie S, Fagan W, Schade J, Hood J, Sterner RW (2003) Growth rate-stoichiometry couplings in diverse biota. Ecol Lett 6:936–943

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Elser JJ, Bracken MES, Cleland EE, Gruner DS, Harpole WS, Hillebrand H, Ngai JT, Seabloom EW, Shurin JB, Smith JE (2007) Global analysis of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation of primary producers in freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Ecol Lett 10:1135–1142

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Forestry Commission of China (2014) Perspective of China forestry. China Forest Press, Beijing

    Google Scholar 

  • Han WX, Fang JY, Guo DL, Zhang Y (2005) Leaf nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry across 753 terrestrial plant species in China. New Phytol 168:377–385

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Harpole WS, Ngai JT, Cleland EE, Seabloom EW, Borer ET, Bracken MES, Elser JJ, Gruner DS, Hillebrand H, Shurin JB, Smith JE (2011) Nutrient co-limitation of primary producer communities. Ecol Lett 14:852–862

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • He W, Lei L, Ma Z, Teng M, Wang P, Yan Z, Huang Z, Zeng L, Xiao W (2020a) Nonadditive effects of decomposing mixed foliar litter on the release of several metallic elements in a Pinus massoniana Lamb forest. Ann For Sci:77

  • He W, Xu X, Zhang C, Ma Z, Xu J, Ten M, Yan Z, Wang B, Wang P (2020b) Understory vegetation removal reduces the incidence of non-additive mass loss during leaf litter decomposition in a subtropical Pinus massoniana plantation. Plant Soil 446:529–541

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hedwall PO, Bergh J, Brunet J (2017) Phosphorus and nitrogen co-limitation of forest ground vegetation under elevated anthropogenic nitrogen deposition. Oecologia 185:317–326

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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 Chang Biol 12:489–499

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hu XF, Chen FS, Nagle G, Fang YT, Yu MQ (2011) Soil phosphorus fractions and tree phosphorus resorption in pine forests along an urban-to-rural gradient in Nanchang, China. Plant Soil 346:97–106

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Huang WJ, Liu JX, Wang YP, Zhou GY, Han TF, Li Y (2013) Increasing phosphorus limitation along three successional forests in southern China. Plant Soil 364:181–191

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jia SX, Wang ZQ, Li XP, Sun Y, Zhang XP, Liang AZ (2010) N fertilization affects on soil respiration, microbial biomass and root respiration in Larix gmelinii and Fraxinus mandshurica plantations in China. Plant Soil 333:325–336

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jiang C, Shen J, Cui Q, Yan Y, Liu Y, Zu C (2020) Optimal lime application rates for ameliorating acidic soils and improving the yield and quality of tobacco leaves. Appl Ecol Environ Res 18:5411–5423

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kalkhoran SS, Pannell D, Thamo T, Polyakov M, White B (2020) Optimal lime rates for soil acidity mitigation: impacts of crop choice and nitrogen fertiliser in Western Australia. Crop Pasture Sci 71:36–46

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kaspari M, Roeder KA, Benson B, Weiser MD, Sanders NJ (2017) Sodium co-limits and catalyzes macronutrients in a prairie food web. Ecology 98:315–320

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Killingbeck KT (1996) Nutrients in senesced leaves: keys to the search for potential resorption and resorption proficiency. Ecology 77:1716–1727

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kou L, Wang HM, Gao WL, Chen WW, Yang H, Li SG (2017) Nitrogen addition regulates tradeoff between root capture and foliar resorption of nitrogen and phosphorus in a subtropical pine plantation. Trees-Structure and Function 31:77–91

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lambers H, Martinoia E, Renton M (2015) Plant adaptations to severely phosphorus-impoverished soils. Curr Opin Plant Biol 25:23–31

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • LeBauer DS, Treseder KK (2008) Nitrogen limitation of net primary productivity in terrestrial ecosystems is globally distributed. Ecology 89:371–379

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Liu JT, Gu ZJ, Shao HB, Zhou F, Peng SY (2016) N-P stoichiometry in soil and leaves of Pinus massoniana forest at different stand ages in the subtropical soil erosion area of China. Environ Earth Sci 75

  • Liu C, Kang H, Wang B, Zhang L, Yi Y, Zheng J, Hu X, Yu J (2021) Studies on low-function plantations in the Middle Basin of Yangtz River. Northeast Forestry University Press, Haerbin, China, China

    Google Scholar 

  • Lu XT, Hou SL, Reed S, Yin JX, Hu YY, Wei HW, Zhang ZW, Yang GJ, Liu ZY, Han XG (2021) Nitrogen enrichment reduces nitrogen and phosphorus resorption through changes to species resorption and plant community composition. Ecosystems 24:602–612

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marklein AR, Houlton BZ (2012) Nitrogen inputs accelerate phosphorus cycling rates across a wide variety of terrestrial ecosystems. New Phytol 193:696–704

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nakaji T, Fukami M, Dokiya Y, Izuta T (2001) Effects of high nitrogen load on growth, photosynthesis and nutrient status of Cryptomeria japonica and Pinus densiflora seedlings. Trees-Structure and Function 15:453–461

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ni X, Lin C, Chen G, Xie J, Yang Z, Liu X, Xiong D, Xu C, Yue K, Wu* F, Yang Y (2021) Decline in nutrient inputs from litterfall following forest plantation in subtropical China. For Ecol Mang 496. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2020.118855

  • Ostertag R (2010) Foliar nitrogen and phosphorus accumulation responses after fertilization: an example from nutrient-limited Hawaiian forests. Plant Soil 334:85–98

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Peltzer DA, Wardle DA, Allison VJ, Baisden TW, Bardgett RD, Chadwick OA, Condron LM, Parfitt RL, Porder S, Richardson SJ, Turner BL, Vitousek PM, Walker J, Walker LR (2010) Causes and consequences of ecosystem retrogression. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 74:A802–A802

    Google Scholar 

  • Penuelas J, Sardans J, Rivas-Ubach A, Janssens IA (2012) The human-induced imbalance between C, N and P in Earth's life system. Glob Chang Biol 18:3–6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Proe MF, Millard P (1995) Effect of P supply upon seasonal growth and internal cycling of P in Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (bong) Carr) seedlings. Plant Soil 168:313–317

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reed SC, Townsend AR, Davidson EA, Cleveland CC (2012) Stoichiometric patterns in foliar nutrient resorption across multiple scales. New Phytol 196:173–180

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reich PB, Oleksyn J (2004) Global patterns of plant leaf N and P in relation to temperature and latitude. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 101:11001–11006

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sun ZZ, Liu LL, Peng SS, Penuelas J, Zeng H, Piao SL (2016) Age-related modulation of the nitrogen resorption efficiency response to growth requirements and soil nitrogen availability in a temperate pine plantation. Ecosystems 19:698–709

  • Tsujii Y, Onoda Y, Kitayama K (2017) Phosphorus and nitrogen resorption from different chemical fractions in senescing leaves of tropical tree species on mount Kinabalu, Borneo. Oecologia 185:171–180

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vergutz L, Manzoni S, Porporato A, Novais RF, Jackson RB (2012) Global resorption efficiencies and concentrations of carbon and nutrients in leaves of terrestrial plants. Ecol Monogr 82:205–220

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vitousek PM, Porder S, Houlton BZ, Chadwick OA (2010) Terrestrial phosphorus limitation: mechanisms, implications, and nitrogen-phosphorus interactions. Ecol Appl 20:5–15

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wang FC, Fang XM, Wang GG, Mao R, Lin XF, Wang HM, Chen FS (2019) Effects of nutrient addition on foliar phosphorus fractions and their resorption in different-aged leaves of Chinese fir in subtropical China. Plant Soil 443:41–54

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wright SJ, Yavitt JB, Wurzburger N, Turner BL, Tanner EV, Sayer EJ, Santiago LS, Kaspari M, Hedin LO, Harms KE, Garcia MN, Corre MD (2011) Potassium, phosphorus, or nitrogen limit root allocation, tree growth, or litter production in a lowland tropical forest. Ecology 92:1616–1625

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Xu XJ, Timmer VR (1999) Growth and nitrogen nutrition of Chinese fir seedlings exposed to nutrient loading and fertilization. Plant Soil 216:83–91

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yan ZG, Zhou QH, Teng MJ, Ji H, Zhang JL, He W, Ye YM, Wang B, Wang PC (2019) High planting density and leaf area index of masson pine forest reduce crown transmittance of photosynthetically active radiation. Glob Ecol Conserv 20

  • Yu Z, Zhou GY, Liu L, Manzoni S, Ciais P, Goll D, Penuelas J, Sardans J, Wang WT, Zhu J, Li L, Yan JH, Liu JX, Tang XL (2021) Natural forests promote phosphorus retention in soil. Glob Chang Biol

  • Yuan ZY, Chen HYH (2015) Negative effects of fertilization on plant nutrient resorption. Ecology 96:373–380

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zeng LX, He W, Teng MJ, Luo X, Yan ZG, Huang ZL, Zhou ZX, Wang PC, Xiao WF (2018) Effects of mixed leaf litter from predominant afforestation tree species on decomposition rates in the three gorges reservoir, China. Sci Total Environ 639:679–686

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhang T, Wen XP, Ding GJ (2017) Ectomycorrhizal symbiosis enhances tolerance to low phosphorous through expression of phosphate transporter genes in masson pine (Pinus massoniana). Acta Physiol Plant 39:101

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhu JX, Wang QF, He NP, Smith MD, Elser JJ, Du JQ, Yuan GF, Yu GR, Yu Q (2016) Imbalanced atmospheric nitrogen and phosphorus depositions in China: implications for nutrient limitation. J Geophys Res Biogeosci 121:1605–1616

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Taizishan Forest Farm for providing access and logistical support for the field fertilization experiment. Special thanks to Yiyuan Li, Licheng Liu, Xionghui Qi, Lihao Song and Qinghui Zhou for field and laboratory work assistance.

Funding

This study was funded by Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (2017YFD0600304) and The Chinese Ministry of Education through Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2662020YLPY022 & 2662018QD059).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

Zhaogui Yan: conceptualization, funding acquisition, manuscript drafting; Ben Wang: methodology, data curation and analysis, manuscript drafting, funding acquisition; Jihao Chen: data analysis, field sampling, manuscript drafting; Guan Huang: methodology, field sampling, laboratory chemical analysis; Shuai Zhao: methodology, data analysis, editing; Fangwei Dong: methodology, data analysis, editing; Yangyang Zhang: methodology; data analysis, editing; Wei He: conceptualization, methodology, editing; Pengcheng Wang: conceptualization, funding acquisition, review. All authors read and approve the submission to Plant and Soil.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zhaogui Yan.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.

Pre-submission review

The manuscript was pre-reviewed by Prof. Ian T. Riley (a consulting editor with Plant and Soil, formerly of the University of Adelaide). Email: ian.t.riley@uni.sydney.edu.au.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

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

Responsible Editor: Timothy J. Fahey.

Supplementary Information

ESM 1

(DOCX 92 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wang, B., Chen, J., Huang, G. et al. Growth and nutrient stoichiometry responses to N and P fertilization of 8-year old Masson pines (Pinus massoniana) in subtropical China. Plant Soil (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-022-05424-2

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-022-05424-2

Keywords

  • Fertilization
  • Masson pine plantation
  • Nutrient management
  • Phosphorus limitation
  • Stand retrogression
  • Tree growth