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Forests 2015, 6(8), 2820-2835; doi:10.3390/f6082820

Nitrogen Nutrition of Trees in Temperate Forests—The Significance of Nitrogen Availability in the Pedosphere and Atmosphere

1
Institute of Forest Sciences, University of Freiburg, Georges-Koehler-Allee 53/54, Freiburg 79110, Germany
2
Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, Atmospheric Environmental Research (IMK-IFU), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Kreuzeckbahnstrasse 19, Garmisch-Partenkirchen 82467, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Eric J. Jokela
Received: 11 May 2015 / Revised: 12 July 2015 / Accepted: 5 August 2015 / Published: 14 August 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nitrogen and Phosphorus Nutrition of Trees and Forests)
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Abstract

Nitrogen (N) is an essential nutrient that is highly abundant as N2 in the atmosphere and also as various mineral and organic forms in soils. However, soil N bioavailability often limits the net primary productivity of unperturbed temperate forests with low atmospheric N input. This is because most soil N is part of polymeric organic matter, which requires microbial depolymerization and mineralization to render bioavailable N forms such as monomeric organic or mineral N. Despite this N limitation, many unfertilized forest ecosystems on marginal soil show relatively high productivity and N uptake comparable to agricultural systems. The present review article addresses the question of how this high N demand is met in temperate forest ecosystems. For this purpose, current knowledge on the distribution and fluxes of N in marginal forest soil and the regulation of N acquisition and distribution in trees are summarized. The related processes and fluxes under N limitation are compared with those of forests exposed to high N loads, where chronic atmospheric N deposition has relieved N limitation and caused N saturation. We conclude that soil microbial biomass is of decisive importance for nutrient retention and provision to trees both in high and low N ecosystems. View Full-Text
Keywords: tree nitrogen uptake; soil microbial nitrogen turnover; N limitation; N saturation; atmospheric nitrogen deposition; Höglwald spruce forest; Tuttlingen beech forest tree nitrogen uptake; soil microbial nitrogen turnover; N limitation; N saturation; atmospheric nitrogen deposition; Höglwald spruce forest; Tuttlingen beech forest
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Rennenberg, H.; Dannenmann, M. Nitrogen Nutrition of Trees in Temperate Forests—The Significance of Nitrogen Availability in the Pedosphere and Atmosphere. Forests 2015, 6, 2820-2835.

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