Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub

    Description

    General circulation models project more intense and frequent droughts over the next century, but many questions remain about how terrestrial ecosystems will respond. Of particular importance, is to understand how drought will alter the species composition of regenerating temperate forests wherein symbiotic dinitrogen (N2)- fixing plants play a critical role. In experimental mesocosms we manipulated soil moisture to study the effect of drought on the physiology, growth and competitive interactions of four co-occurring North American tree species, one of which (Robinia pseudoacacia) is a symbiotic N2- fixer. We hypothesized that drought would reduce growth by decreasing stomatal conductance, hydraulic conductance and increasing the water use efficiency of species with larger diameter xylem vessel elements (Quercus rubra, R. pseudoacacia) relative to those with smaller elements (Acer rubrum and Liriodendron tulipifera). We further hypothesized that N2 fixation by R. pseudoacacia would decline with drought, reducing its competitive ability. Under drought, growth declined across all species; but, growth and physiological responses did not correspond to species’ hydraulic architecture. Drought triggered an 80 % increase in nodule biomass and N accrual for R. pseudoacacia, improving its growth relative to other species. These results suggest that drought intensified soil N deficiency and that R. pseudoacacia’s ability to fix N2 facilitated competition with non-fixing species when both water and N were limiting. Under scenarios of moderate drought, N2 fixation may alleviate the N constraints resulting from low soil moisture and improve competitive ability of N2-fixing species, and as a result, supply more new N to the ecosystem.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to pubrequest@fs.fed.us to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

    Citation

    Wurzburger, Nina; Miniat, Chelcy Ford. 2013. Drought enhances symbiotic dinitrogen fixation and competitive ability of a temperate forest tree. Oecologia DOI 10.1007/s00442-013-2851-0.

    Keywords

    limate change, Biogeochemistry, Hydraulic conductance, Plant physiology, Stomatal conductance

    Related Search


    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page
https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/45385