Increases in the flux of carbon belowground stimulate nitrogen uptake and sustain the long-term enhancement of forest productivity under elevated CO2

John E. Drake, Anne Gallet-Budynek, Kirsten S. Hofmockel, Emily S. Bernhardt, Sharon A. Billings, Robert B. Jackson, Kurt S. Johnsen, John Lichter, Heather R. Mccarthy, M. Luke Mccormack, David J.P. Moore, Ram Oren, Sari Palmroth, Richard P. Phillips, Jeffrey S. Pippen, Seth G. Pritchard, Kathleen K. Treseder, William H. Schlesinger, Evan H. Delucia, Adrien C. Finzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The earth's future climate state is highly dependent upon changes in terrestrial C storage in response to rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2. Here we show that consistently enhanced rates of net primary production (NPP) are sustained by a C-cascade through the root-microbe-soil system; increases in the flux of C belowground under elevated CO2 stimulated microbial activity, accelerated the rate of soil organic matter decomposition and stimulated tree uptake of N bound to this SOM. This process set into motion a positive feedback maintaining greater C gain under elevated CO2 as a result of increases in canopy N content and higher photosynthetic N-use efficiency. The ecosystem-level consequence of the enhanced requirement for N and the exchange of plant C for N belowground is the dominance of C storage in tree biomass but the preclusion of a large C sink in the soil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-357
Number of pages9
JournalEcology Letters
Volume14
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2011

Keywords

  • Carbon sequestration
  • Coupled biogeochemical cycles
  • Coupled climate-carbon cycle models
  • Elevated CO
  • Forest productivity
  • Nitrogen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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  • Cite this

    Drake, J. E., Gallet-Budynek, A., Hofmockel, K. S., Bernhardt, E. S., Billings, S. A., Jackson, R. B., Johnsen, K. S., Lichter, J., Mccarthy, H. R., Mccormack, M. L., Moore, D. J. P., Oren, R., Palmroth, S., Phillips, R. P., Pippen, J. S., Pritchard, S. G., Treseder, K. K., Schlesinger, W. H., Delucia, E. H., & Finzi, A. C. (2011). Increases in the flux of carbon belowground stimulate nitrogen uptake and sustain the long-term enhancement of forest productivity under elevated CO2. Ecology Letters, 14(4), 349-357. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01593.x