Plant Ecology

, Volume 130, Issue 1, pp 63–70 | Cite as

Growth and nitrogen accretion of dinitrogen-fixing Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertn. under elevated carbon dioxide

  • Christoph S. Vogel
  • Peter S. Curtis
  • Richard B. Thomas*


Short-term studies of tree growth at elevated CO2 suggest that forest productivity may increase as atmospheric CO2 concentrations rise, although low soil N availability may limit the magnitude of this response. There have been few studies of growth and N2 fixation by symbiotic N2-fixing woody species under elevated CO2 and the N inputs these plants could provide to forest ecosystems in the future. We investigated the effect of twice ambient CO2 on growth, tissue N accretion, and N2 fixation of nodulated Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertn. grown under low soil N conditions for 160 d. Root, nodule, stem, and leaf dry weight (DW) and N accretion increased significantly in response to elevated CO2. Whole-plant biomass and N accretion increased 54% and 40%, respectively. Delta-15N analysis of leaf tissue indicated that plants from both treatments derived similar proportions of their total N from symbiotic fixation suggesting that elevated CO2 grown plants fixed approximately 40% more N than did ambient CO2 grown plants. Leaves from both CO2 treatments showed similar relative declines in leaf N content prior to autumnal leaf abscission, but total N in leaf litter increased 24% in elevated compared to ambient CO2 grown plants. These results suggest that with rising atmospheric CO2 N2-fixing woody species will accumulate greater amounts of biomass N through N2 fixation and may enhance soil N levels by increased litter N inputs.

Black alder Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Delta 15N Analysis Nitrogen Fixation Root Nodules 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph S. Vogel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peter S. Curtis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard B. Thomas*
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Biological StationThe University of MichiganPellstonUSA
  3. 3.Department of BotanyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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