Special Issue "Stable Isotopes in Forest Ecosystem Research"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecophysiology and Biology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Juan Pedro Ferrio
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
ARAID-Forest Resources Unit, Agrifood Research and Technology Centre of Aragón (CITA), Zaragoza, Spain
Interests: ecophysiology; ecohydrology; palaeoecology; phenotyping
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. M. Larry Lopez C.
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Agriculture, Yamagata University, Wakaba-machi, Tsuruoka-shi Yamagata 997-8555, Japan.
Interests: forest nitrogen and water cycle by using nitrogen and carbon/oxygen isotopes; use isotopes as an integrator tool of the exchange of C, N and H2O within the soil-plant-atmosphere interface; long-term effects (or resilience) of forest ecosystems to disturbances such as fire, insect outbreak, salinity, soil chemical unbalance and tsunami.

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Globally, forests are able to fix about 30% of annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and may be responsible for 70–90% of continental water losses. Therefore, understanding forest response to environmental drivers is crucial to anticipate and eventually mitigate the impacts of future global change. For this purpose, stable isotopes analysis has become a particularly suitable tool, offering time- and space-integrated information on the environmental effects on tree physiology and the implications for carbon, water and nutrient ecosystem balances. In this Special Issue, we invite studies developing applications of stable isotopes in forest ecology, tree physiology and ecohydrology, as well as modelling or empirical studies aimed at improving our mechanistic understanding of isotope fractionation in trees.

In particular, we encourage studies on the application of stables isotopes to the study of:

  • ecological interactions in relation to the use of resources, e.g. nutrients, water, light;
  • genetic variability in water uptake and water use efficiency in trees;
  • nutrient balance of forests in response to environmental or anthropogenic changes;
  • nitrogen dynamics: soil-mycorrhiza-plant interface;
  • interaction between forests and the hydrological cycle;
  • physiological response to different silvicultural treatments or disturbances;
  • whole-tree and ecosystem carbon and water balances;
  • validation and/or development of mechanistic models of isotope fractionation;

Dr. Juan Pedro Ferrio Díaz
Prof. Dr. M. Larry Lopez C.
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Stable isotopes
  • Environmental response
  • Ecological interactions
  • Genetic variability
  • Water-use efficiency
  • Nutrient cycle
  • Carbon cycle
  • Climate reconstruction 
  • Hydrological cycle
  • Forest management
  • Disturbances

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
Species Differences in Nitrogen Acquisition in Humid Subtropical Forest Inferred From 15N Natural Abundance and Its Response to Tracer Addition
Forests 2019, 10(11), 991; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10110991 - 06 Nov 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 734
Abstract
Differences in nitrogen (N) acquisition patterns between plant species are often reflected in the natural 15N isotope ratios (δ15N) of the plant tissues, however, such differences are poorly understood for co-occurring plants in tropical and subtropical forests. To evaluate species [...] Read more.
Differences in nitrogen (N) acquisition patterns between plant species are often reflected in the natural 15N isotope ratios (δ15N) of the plant tissues, however, such differences are poorly understood for co-occurring plants in tropical and subtropical forests. To evaluate species variation in N acquisition traits, we measured leaf N concentration (%N) and δ15N in tree and understory plant species under ambient N deposition (control) and after a decade of N addition at 50 kg N ha−1 yr−1 (N-plots) in an old-growth subtropical forest in southern China. We also measured changes in leaf δ15N after one-year of 15N addition in both the control and N-plots. The results show consistent significant species variation in leaf %N in both control and N-plots, but decadal N addition did not significantly affect leaf %N. Leaf δ15N values were also significantly different among the plant species both in tree and understory layers, and both in control and N-plots, suggesting differences in N acquisition strategies such as variation in N sources and dominant forms of N uptake and dependence on mycorrhizal associations among the co-occurring plant species. Significant differences between the plant species (in both control and N-plots) in changes in leaf δ15N after 15N addition were observed only in the understory plants, indicating difference in access (or use) of deposited N among the plants. Decadal N addition had species-dependent effects on leaf δ15N, suggesting the N acquisition patterns of these plant species are differently affected by N deposition. These results suggest that co-occurring plants in N-rich and subtropical forests vary in their N acquisition traits; these differences need to be accounted for when evaluating the impact of N deposition on N cycling in these ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotopes in Forest Ecosystem Research)
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Article
Bamboo Water Transport Assessed with Deuterium Tracing
Forests 2019, 10(8), 623; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10080623 - 26 Jul 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1380
Abstract
Bamboo water transport comprises the pathway rhizomes-culms-leaves as well as transfer among culms via connected rhizomes. We assessed bamboo water transport in three big clumpy bamboo species by deuterium tracing. The tracer was injected into the base of established culms, and water samples [...] Read more.
Bamboo water transport comprises the pathway rhizomes-culms-leaves as well as transfer among culms via connected rhizomes. We assessed bamboo water transport in three big clumpy bamboo species by deuterium tracing. The tracer was injected into the base of established culms, and water samples were collected from leaves of the labeled culms and from neighboring culms. From the base of labeled culms to their leaves, the average tracer arrival time across species was 1.2 days, maximum tracer concentration was reached after 1.8 days, and the tracer residence time was 5.6 days. Sap velocities were high (13.9 m d−1). Daily culm water use rates estimated by the tracer method versus rates measured by a calibrated sap flux method were highly correlated (R2 = 0.94), but the tracer estimates were about 70% higher. Elevated deuterium concentrations in studied neighbor culms point to deuterium transfer among culms, which may explain the difference in culm water use estimates. We found no differences in deuterium concentrations between neighbor-established and neighbor freshly sprouted culms of a given species. In two species, elevated concentrations in both neighbor-established and neighbor freshly sprouted culms were observed over an extended period. An applied mixing model suggests that five neighbor culms received labeled water. In contrast, for the third species, elevated concentrations in neighbor culms were only observed at the earliest sampling date after labeling. This could indicate that there was only short-term transfer and that the tracer was distributed more widely across the rhizome network. In conclusion, our deuterium tracing experiments point to water transfer among culms, but with species-specific differences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotopes in Forest Ecosystem Research)
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Article
Sand Dune Height Increases Water Use Efficiency at the Expense of Growth and Leaf Area in Mongolian Pine Growing in Hulunbeier Steppe, Inner Mongolia, China
Forests 2019, 10(7), 558; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10070558 - 03 Jul 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1264
Abstract
The Mongolian pine (Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica) is one of the most common tree species in semiarid and arid areas of China, especially in the sand dunes of the Hulunbeier steppe. This study addresses the morphological and physiological characteristics of the [...] Read more.
The Mongolian pine (Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica) is one of the most common tree species in semiarid and arid areas of China, especially in the sand dunes of the Hulunbeier steppe. This study addresses the morphological and physiological characteristics of the Mongolian pine according to sand dune height. Five sites were chosen with various sand dune heights (P1–P5). Nine years after planting, tree growth, leaf area, leaf mass per leaf unit area (LMA), diameter at breast height (DBH), tree height, diameter at root collar (DRC), longest shoot length, carbon isotope composition, and intrinsic water use efficiency (iWUE) were measured to explore the responses of Mongolian pine trees to drought. DBH, tree height, DRC, leaf area, leaf length, and longest shoot length significantly decreased with greater sand dune height (p < 0.05). However, the carbon isotope actually increased with dune height (p < 0.05). Conversely, the iWUE of current-year pine needles was significantly higher at measurement points P3 (132.29 μmol CO2 mol −1 H2O), P4 (132.96 μmol CO2 mol −1 H2O), and P5 (125.34 μmol CO2 mol −1 H2O) than at the lower points P1 (95.18 ± 9.87 μmol CO2 mol −1 H2O) and P2 (103.10 ± 11.12 μmol CO2 mol −1 H2O). Greater sand dune height increases the distance to groundwater, which in this study led to an increase in iWUE in the Mongolian pines, thus these trees appear to adapt to increased sand dune height by increasing their iWUE and decreasing their leaf area. However, prolonged periods characterized by such adaptations can lead to tree death. We expect these findings to be useful when selecting plantation sites for Mongolian pines in semiarid and arid climates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotopes in Forest Ecosystem Research)
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Article
Combining a Quantum Cascade Laser Spectrometer with an Automated Closed-Chamber System for δ13C Measurements of Forest Soil, Tree Stem and Tree Root CO2 Fluxes
Forests 2019, 10(5), 432; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10050432 - 19 May 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1510
Abstract
Recent advances in laser spectroscopy have allowed for real-time measurements of the 13C/12C isotopic ratio in CO2, thereby providing new ways to investigate carbon cycling in natural ecosystems. In this study, we combined an Aerodyne quantum cascade laser [...] Read more.
Recent advances in laser spectroscopy have allowed for real-time measurements of the 13C/12C isotopic ratio in CO2, thereby providing new ways to investigate carbon cycling in natural ecosystems. In this study, we combined an Aerodyne quantum cascade laser spectrometer for CO2 isotopes with a LI-COR LI-8100A/8150 automated chamber system to measure the δ13C of CO2 during automated closed-chamber measurements. The isotopic composition of the CO2 flux was determined for each chamber measurement by applying the Keeling plot method. We found that the δ13C measured by the laser spectrometer was influenced by water vapour and CO2 concentration of the sample air and we developed a method to correct for these effects to yield accurate measurements of δ13C. Overall, correcting for the CO2 concentration increased the δ13C determined from the Keeling plots by 3.4‰ compared to 2.1‰ for the water vapour correction. We used the combined system to measure δ13C of the CO2 fluxes automatically every two hours from intact soil, trenched soil, tree stems and coarse roots during a two-month campaign in a Danish beech forest. The mean δ13C was −29.8 ± 0.32‰ for the intact soil plots, which was similar to the mean δ13C of −29.8 ± 1.2‰ for the trenched soil plots. The lowest δ13C was found for the root plots with a mean of −32.6 ± 0.78‰. The mean δ13C of the stems was −30.2 ± 0.74‰, similar to the mean δ13C of the soil plots. In conclusion, the study showed the potential of using a quantum cascade laser spectrometer to measure δ13C of CO2 during automated closed-chamber measurements, thereby allowing for measurements of isotopic ecosystem CO2 fluxes at a high temporal resolution. It also highlighted the importance of proper correction for cross-sensitivity with water vapour and CO2 concentration of the sample air to get accurate measurements of δ13C. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotopes in Forest Ecosystem Research)
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Article
Variation of Leaf Carbon Isotope in Plants in Different Lithological Habitats in a Karst Area
Forests 2019, 10(4), 356; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10040356 - 25 Apr 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1274
Abstract
Drought is the major factor that limits vegetation recovery in rocky desertification areas. The leaf carbon isotope (δ13C) value is related to plant water-use efficiency (WUE) and is of great significance in revealing the WUE characteristics of species in karst areas. [...] Read more.
Drought is the major factor that limits vegetation recovery in rocky desertification areas. The leaf carbon isotope (δ13C) value is related to plant water-use efficiency (WUE) and is of great significance in revealing the WUE characteristics of species in karst areas. Measurements of the δ13C value in plant leaves and the nutrient and water contents of lithologic soils were obtained for six woody species (cypress, Cupressus funebris Endl.; mansur shrub, Coriaria nepalensis Wall.; camphor, Cinnamomum bodinieri Levl.; birch, Betula luminifera H. Winkl.; alder, Alnus cremastogyne Burk. and dyetree, Platycarya longipes Wu.) planted in three different lithologic soil types (dolomite, dolomite sandstone, limestone) in the karst area of Guizhou Province. The results showed that C. funebris in the dolomite sandstone soil had the highest δ13C value (−27.19‰), whereas C. bodinieri in the limestone soil had the lowest δ13C value (−31.50‰). In terms of lithology, the average leaf δ13C values were −28.66‰ (dolomitic sandstone), −28.83‰ (dolomite), and −29.46‰ (limestone). The δ13C values of C. funebris and A. cremastogyne were significantly lower in the limestone soil than in the dolomite and dolomite sandstone soil, indicating that the WUE of some tree species is affected by soil conditions under different lithological development processes. Moreover, the relationship between the δ13C value in the leaves and the comprehensive soil conditions varied among the species, and the δ13C value was negatively correlated with the soil water content in all three soil types. Our study provides basic data on the composition characteristics of the δ13C value of tree species, which is beneficial for the selection of tree species for vegetation restoration and afforestation in karst areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotopes in Forest Ecosystem Research)
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Article
N Isotope Fractionation in Tree Tissues During N Reabsorption and Remobilization in Fagus crenata Blume
Forests 2019, 10(4), 330; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10040330 - 12 Apr 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1360
Abstract
Background and Motivation: Nitrogen content in tissues of Fagus crenata Blume is key for flowering and seed production. However, there is a lack of information on seasonal intra-plant nitrogen partitioning in this representative tree species typical of heavy snowfall regions in Japan. Therefore, [...] Read more.
Background and Motivation: Nitrogen content in tissues of Fagus crenata Blume is key for flowering and seed production. However, there is a lack of information on seasonal intra-plant nitrogen partitioning in this representative tree species typical of heavy snowfall regions in Japan. Therefore, the objective of this study was to elucidate Fagus crenata intra-plant nitrogen movement by means of nitrogen content, nitrogen isotope analysis, and amino acids temporal variability. Materials and Methods: Nitrogen content, isotope ratio, and free amino acids content were measured in coarse roots, sapwood, leaves, and litter in four phenological stages in nine adult Fagus crenata trees and upscaled to the whole-tree level. Results: Nitrogen was reabsorbed to and stored in coarse roots during the pre-abscission stage, as was revealed by the depletion of the δ15N ratio of coarse roots, which coincided with an enrichment of 15N found in leaves. During the post-abscission stage, N was stored in the sapwood, where an enrichment in 15N was found coinciding with the depletion of the δ15N ratio in leaves. It seemed that 15N-enriched nitrogen was initially reabsorbed from leaves to coarse roots during the pre-abscission period, followed by the reabsorption of 15N-enriched nitrogen from leaves to sapwood shortly before leaf abscission. Free amino acids content and their dynamics could mostly explain seasonal δ15N fractionation in leaves, coarse roots, and partially in sapwood. At the whole-tree level, N content stored in coarse roots and sapwood was similar. Furthermore, reabsorbed leaf N accounted for 32% of all nitrogen stored during leaf senescence. Conclusion: We found three phases of nitrogen storage revealed by δ15N fractionation during leaf senescence: (1) reabsorption of leaf 15N-depleted nitrogen to coarse roots, followed by (2) reabsorption of leaf 15N-enriched nitrogen to sapwood and (3) soil 15N-depleted nitrogen uptake to coarse roots. Further, changes in free amino acids, which are the result of enzyme activities involved in amino acids synthesis, partially explained δ15N fractionation in plant tissues. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotopes in Forest Ecosystem Research)
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Article
Carbon Isotopes of Riparian Forests Trees in the Savannas of the Volta Sub-Basin of Ghana Reveal Contrasting Responses to Climatic and Environmental Variations
Forests 2019, 10(3), 251; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10030251 - 12 Mar 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1500
Abstract
Stable isotopes of tree rings are frequently used as proxies in climate change studies. However, species-specific relationships between climate and tree-ring stable isotopes have not yet been studied in riparian forests in the savannas of West Africa. Four cross-dated discs, each of Afzelia [...] Read more.
Stable isotopes of tree rings are frequently used as proxies in climate change studies. However, species-specific relationships between climate and tree-ring stable isotopes have not yet been studied in riparian forests in the savannas of West Africa. Four cross-dated discs, each of Afzelia africana Sm. (evergreen) and Anogeissus leiocarpus (DC.) Guill. & Perr. (deciduous) in the humid (HSZ) and dry (DSZ) savanna zones of the Volta basin in Ghana were selected from a larger tree-ring dataset to assess the relationships between the tree-ring carbon isotope composition (δ13C values) and climatic parameters. The atmospherically corrected δ13C values of both studied species showed that A. africana was enriched in 13C compared to A. leiocarpus. Strong correlations were found between δ13C values of A. africana and A. leiocarpus with temperature, but weak correlations with precipitation. Spatial correlation analysis revealed significant relationships between δ13C values of both tree species and Sea Surface Temperatures in the Gulf of Guinea in the southern Atlantic Ocean. The results suggest that the carbon isotope composition of riparian trees in the Volta river basin has a potential to reconstruct climate variability and to assess tree ecological responses to climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotopes in Forest Ecosystem Research)
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