Nutrient resorption from senescing leaves is one of the plants’ essential nutrient conservation strategies. Parameters associated with resorption are important nutrient-cycling constraints for accurate predictions of long-term primary productivity in forest ecosystems. However, we know little about the spatial patterns and drivers of leaf nutrient resorption in planted forests worldwide. By synthesizing results of 146 studies, we explored nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) resorption efficiency (NRE and PRE) among climate zones and tree functional types, as well as the factors that play dominant roles in nutrient resorption in plantations globally. Our results showed that the mean NRE and PRE were 58.98% ± 0.53% and 60.21% ± 0.77%, respectively. NRE significantly increased from tropical to boreal zones, while PRE did not significantly differ among climate zones, suggesting differential impacts of climates on NRE and PRE. Plant functional types exert a strong influence on nutrient resorption. Conifer trees had higher PRE than broadleaf trees, reflecting the adaptation of the coniferous trees to oligotrophic habitats. Deciduous trees had lower PRE than evergreen trees that are commonly planted in P-limited low latitudes and have long leaf longevity with high nutrient use efficiency. While non-N-fixing trees had higher NRE than N-fixing trees, the PRE of non-N-fixing trees was lower than that of N-fixing trees, indicating significant impact of the N-fixing ability on the resorption of N and P. Our multivariate regression analyses showed that variations in NRE were mainly regulated by climates (mean annual precipitation and latitude), while variations in PRE were dominantly controlled by green leaf nutrient concentrations (N and P). Our results, in general, suggest that the predicted global warming and changed precipitation regimes may profoundly affect N cycling in planted forests. In addition, green leaf nutrient concentrations may be good indicators for PRE in planted forests.
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