Researchers in the Multiple Element Limitation in Northern Hardwood Ecosystems (MELNHE) project are studying N and P acquisition and limitation through a series of nutrient manipulations in northern hardwood forests. This project is supported by the National Science Foundation, and builds upon the Northern Hardwood Forest Calcium Cycling Project, which established our sites at Bartlett. The project is also affectionately called the Shoestring Project, for the continued effort prior to continued funding.
Although temperate forests are generally thought of as N-limited, resource optimization theory predicts that ecosystem productivity should be co-limited by multiple nutrients. These ideas are represented in the Multi-Element Limitation (MEL) model, developed by Ed Rastetter at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. To test the patterns of resource limitation predicted by MEL, we are conducting nutrient manipulations in three study sites in New Hampshire: the Bartlett Experimental Forest, the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, and Jeffers Brook in the White Mountain National Forest.
At Bartlett, we have three replicate stands of three ages (~20, 30, and > 100 years). At Hubbard Brook and Jeffers Brook, there are two stands at each site, corresponding to the mid-aged and mature stands at Bartlett (total 13 stands). In each stand, there are four treatment plots, each 1/4 ha (50 m x 50 m), treated with N (30 kg N/ha/yr as NH4NO3), P (10 kg P/ha/yr as NaH2PO4), N+P, or control, beginning in spring 2011. At 5 of the 13 stands, we also have a Ca treatment plot (1150 kg Ca/ha in the form of CaSiO3).
We are monitoring stem diameter, leaf area, sap flow, foliar chemistry, leaf litter production and chemistry, foliar nutrient resorption, root biomass and production, mycorrhizal associations, soil respiration, heterotrophic respiration, N and P availability, N mineralization, soil phosphatase activity, soil carbon and nitrogen, nutrient uptake capacity of roots, and mineral weathering. Results will be posted as they develop.
MELNHE is led by 6 principal investigators: Ruth Yanai, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY; Melany Fisk, Miami University of Ohio, Oxford, OH; Tim Fahey and Christy Goodale, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Joel Blum, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, and Ed Rastetter, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA; with a host of additional collaborators, including graduate students, technicians, undergraduate students, high school teachers and visiting scientists.
This text was adapted from NSF Grant Proposal # DEB 0949324, "Collaborative Research: Nutrient Co-limitation in Young and Mature Northern Hardwood Forests" Yanai, Goodale, Rastetter, Blum, Fisk, 2009. The project has been supplemented by work in Proposals: 1112743 (REU 2011), 1112749 (ROA 2011), 1214425 (REU 2012)
Poster: Zahor,. Lily E., Michele L. Pruyn, Mark B. Green,Geoff Wilson. 2013. The Impact of Calcium on Transpiration in an Acid Rain Impacted Forest. Plymouth State University Office of Research & Engagement Student Showcase, April 27, 2013. Abstract: Acid rain has impacted New England forest for over 60 years. Acid deposition causes calcium to leach from soils, which is problematic for forests because calcium is broadly important to healthy plant function. We applied calcium fertilizer in the form of wollastonite (CaSiO3) ,attempting to replace leached Ca. Previous forest responses to wollastonite application have shown increased health, growth, and survivorship in hardwoods. Through a whole watershed experiment, it was shown that Ca addition can temporarily increase forest water uptake. However, the mechanisms behind this response remain uncertain. Tree transpiration can be measured by monitoring sap flow volumes. Using the Granier method, a heated probe is inserted in the sapwood above a reference probe enabling the calculation of sap flux. New England are primarily northern deciduous, dominated by American Beech (Fagus grandifolia), Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis) and Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum). Our research goal was to study sap flow in these species to determine whether adding Ca will increase tree transpiration and productivity across sites in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. Summer 2012 preliminary data showed an increased sap flow at a Ca treated versus control sites in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. Continued study is underway for the 2013 season with two additional sites of differing levels of available Ca in their soils. Understanding how forests react to replacement of lost Ca via wollastonite will help land managers understand the impacts of acid rain on forest function and develop appropriate management strategies.
In print! Read more about the Multiple Element Limitation model in" Recovery from disturbance requires resynchronization of ecosystem nutrient cycles", now in print: Rastetter, E. B., R. D. Yanai, R. Q. Thomas, M. A. Vadeboncoeur, T. J. Fahey, M. C. Fisk, B. L. Kwiatkowski, and S. P. Hamburg. 2013. Recovery from disturbance requires resynchronization of ecosystem nutrient cycles. Ecological Applications 23:621–642. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/12-0751.1
Nitrogen and phosphorus (P) are tightly cycled in most terrestrial ecosystems, with plant uptake more than 10 times higher than the rate of supply from deposition and weathering. This near-total dependence on recycled nutrients and the stoichiometric constraints on resource use by plants and microbes mean that the two cycles have to be synchronized such that the ratio of N:P in plant uptake, litterfall, and net mineralization are nearly the same. Disturbance can disrupt this synchronization if there is a disproportionate loss of one nutrient relative to the other. We model the resynchronization of N and P cycles following harvest of a northern hardwood forest. In our simulations, nutrient loss in the harvest is small relative to postharvest losses. More info
The Calcium Project's quantitative pit method featured by the popular press arm of the Soil Science Society of America! Vadeboncoeur, M.A., S.P. Hamburg, J.D. Blum,M.J. Pennino, R.D. Yanai, and C.E. Johnson. 2012. The quantitative soil pit method for measuring belowground carbon and nitrogen stocks. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 76(6) in press doi:10.2136/sssaj2012.0111 was highlighted in the November issue of CSA News. See former student Paul Lilly in a pit on page 15 More Info
Annual Meeting. The MELNHE group presented on many phases of research at the 2012 Hubbard Brook Cooperator's Meeting, July 11, 2012. More Info
Sap Flow Results. Virginia Hernandez-Santana and Heidi Asbjornsen measured sap flow summer 2011 in beech, maple, and birch trees at Hubbard Brook (mature) and Bartlett (C8) in control, N, P, and N+P treatments. Posted 3/20/12 More Info
Soil N&P Availability. Melany Fisk provides the initial assessments of nutrient availability HERE.
Northern Forest Research featured at U Ohio-Miami. Dr. Melany Fisk, Associate Professor of Zoology, and Ph.D. candidate Shinjini Goswami describe their research in the New Hampshire's northern hardwood forest in September, 2011. Posted 2/17/12. Video and Transcript
Previous Highlights are available here
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