The Components of Nitrogen Availability Assessments in Forest Soils

  • D. Binkley
  • S. C. Hart
Part of the Advances in Soil Science book series (SOIL, volume 10)


The availability of nitrogen (N) limits production in many forest ecosystems, and many methods are available for estimating N availability (Keeney, 1980; Binkley 1986; Mahendrappa et al., 1986; Binkley and Vitousek, 1989). The concept of soil availability may represent the rate at which N is converted from unavailable to available forms within the rooting zone (Scarsbrook, 1965). Alternatively, it may refer to the extent to which plant production is constrained by a limited supply of available N. These two aspects of N availability were termed N supply rate and N limitation by Chapin et al. (1986). In agroecosystems, N supply rate and N limitation are often closely linked. In forest ecosystems, differences in species composition, stand age, and soil moisture may uncouple low N supply from N limitation (Chapin et al., 1986). In addition, the nonuniform rooting distribution of trees and the presence of forest floors add spatial complexities to forest N cycles that make it more difficult to estimate N availability in forests than in agroecosystems.


Microbial Biomass Forest Soil Forest Floor Nitrogen Mineralization Anaerobic Incubation 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Binkley
    • 1
  • S. C. Hart
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Forest and Wood SciencesColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Department of Plant and Soil BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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