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Plant biomass data for Nitrogen effects in Langley et al. GCB

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posted on 2024-05-08, 22:34 authored by Adam LangleyAdam Langley

Nitrogen (N) is a limiting nutrient for primary productivity in most terrestrial ecosystems, but whether N limitation is strengthening or weakening remains controversial because both N sources and sinks are increasing in magnitude globally. Temperate marshes are exposed to greater amounts of external N inputs than most terrestrial ecosystems and more than in preindustrial times owing to their position downstream of major sources of human-derived N runoff along river mouths and estuaries. Simultaneously, ecosystem N demand may also be increasing owing to other global changes such as rising atmospheric [CO2]. Here, we used interannual variability in external drivers and variables related to exogenous supply of N, along with detailed assessments of plant growth and porewater biogeochemistry, to assess the severity of N-limitation, and to determine its causes, in a 14-year N-addition x elevated CO2 experiment. We found substantial interannual variability in porewater [N], plant growth, and experimental N effects on plant growth, but the magnitude of N pools through time varied independently of the strength of N limitation. Sea level, and secondarily salinity, related closely to interannual variability in growth of the dominant plant functional groups which drove patterns in N limitation and in porewater [N]. Experimental exposure of plants to elevated CO2 and years with high flooding strengthened N limitation for the sedge. Abiotic variables controlled plant growth, which determined the strength of N limitation for each plant species and for ecosystem productivity as a whole. We conclude that in this ecosystem, which has an open N cycle and where N inputs are likely greater than in preindustrial times, plant N demand has increased more than supply.

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DEB-2051343

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    Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

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