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Tree physiological responses to above-ground herbivory directly modify below-ground processes of soil carbon and nitrogen cycling.

Ayres, Edward and Heath, James and Possell, Malcolm and Black, Helaina I. J. and Kerstiens, Gerhard and Bardgett, Richard D. (2004) Tree physiological responses to above-ground herbivory directly modify below-ground processes of soil carbon and nitrogen cycling. Ecology Letters, 7 (6). pp. 469-479. ISSN 1461-023X

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Abstract

Above-ground herbivory is ubiquitous in terrestrial ecosystems, yet its impacts on below-ground processes and consequences for plants remain ambiguous. To examine whether physiological responses of individual trees may potentially modify soil nutrient availability, we subjected Fagus sylvatica L. (European beech) and Abies alba Mill. (silver fir) to simulated foliar herbivory over two growing seasons. Above-ground herbivory enhanced N mineralization and inorganic N availability in the soil. The total input of C from the plant roots to the soil is not known; however, carbon sequestration in the soil, measured using stable isotopic techniques, was unaffected by herbivory. Fagus responded to herbivory by producing larger leaves, with increased photosynthetic capacity and N content, which largely compensated for the loss of biomass; Abies exhibited no such response. We conclude that despite large interspecific differences in the growth response, tree physiological responses to foliar herbivory are capable of directly modifying soil biological processes.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Ecology Letters
Uncontrolled Keywords: carbon sequestration ; forests ; herbivory ; microbial activity ; nitrogen mineralization ; nutrient cycling ; photosynthesis ; stomatal conductance ; YELLOWSTONE-NATIONAL-PARK ; MICROBIAL BIOMASS ; EXTRACTION METHOD ; MOUNTAIN FORESTS ; MOOSE HERBIVORY ; DEFOLIATION ; PLANTS ; FUMIGATION ; NUTRIENT ; PHOTOSYNTHESIS
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Lancaster Environment Centre
ID Code: 10241
Deposited By: Prof Richard Bardgett
Deposited On: 10 Jul 2008 16:59
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2013 10:48
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/10241

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