skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Perakis, Steven S."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Nitrogen (N)‐fixing trees are thought to break a basic rule of leaf economics: higher leaf N concentrations do not translate into higher rates of carbon assimilation. Understanding how leaf N affects photosynthesis and water use efficiency (WUE) in this ecologically important group is critical.

    We grew six N‐fixing and four non‐fixing tree species for 4–5 years at four fertilization treatments in field experiments in temperate and tropical regions to assess how functional type (N fixer vs. non‐fixer) and N limitation affected leaf N and how leaf N affected light‐saturated photosynthesis (Asat), stomatal conductance (gsw) and WUE (WUEiand δ13C).

    Asat, WUEiand δ13C, but notgsw, increased with higher leaf N. Surprisingly, N‐fixing and non‐fixing trees displayed similar scaling between leaf N and these physiological variables, and this finding was supported by reanalysis of a global dataset. N fixers generally had higher leaf N than non‐fixers, even when non‐fixers were not N‐limited at the leaf level. Leaf‐level N limitation did not alter the relationship ofAsat,gsw, WUEiand δ13C with leaf N, although it did affect the photosynthetic N use efficiency. Higher WUE was associated with higher productivity, whereas higherAsatwas not.

    Synthesis: The ecological success of N‐fixing trees depends on the effect of leaf N on carbon gain and water loss. Using a field fertilization experiment and reanalysis of a global dataset, we show that high leaf‐level photosynthesis and WUE in N fixers stems from their higher average leaf N, rather than a difference between N fixers and non‐fixers in the scaling of photosynthesis and WUE with leaf N. By clarifying the mechanism by which N fixers achieve and benefit from high WUE, our results further the understanding of global N fixer distributions.

    more » « less
  3. Symbiotic nitrogen (N)-fixing trees supply significant N inputs to forest ecosystems, leading to increased soil fertility, forest growth, and carbon storage. Rapid growth and stoichiometric constraints of N fixers also create high demands for rock-derived nutrients such as phosphorus (P), while excess fixed N can generate acidity and accelerate leaching of rock-derived nutrients such as calcium (Ca). This ability of N-fixing trees to accelerate cycles of Ca, P, and other rock-derived nutrients has fostered speculation of a direct link between N fixation and mineral weathering in terrestrial ecosystems. However, field evidence that N-fixing trees have enhanced access to rock-derived nutrients is lacking. Here we use strontium (Sr) isotopes as a tracer of nutrient sources in a mixed-species temperate rainforest to show that N-fixing trees access more rock-derived nutrients than nonfixing trees. The N-fixing tree red alder (Alnus rubra), on average, took up 8 to 18% more rock-derived Sr than five co-occurring nonfixing tree species, including two with high requirements for rock-derived nutrients. The increased access to rock-derived nutrients occurred despite spatial variation in community‐wide Sr sources across the forest, and only N fixers had foliar Sr isotopes that differed significantly from soil exchangeable pools. We calculate that increased uptake of rock-derived nutrients by N-fixing alder requires a 64% increase in weathering supply of nutrients over nonfixing trees. These findings provide direct evidence that an N-fixing tree species can also accelerate nutrient inputs from rock weathering, thus increasing supplies of multiple nutrients that limit carbon uptake and storage in forest ecosystems.

    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Coastal margins are important areas of materials flux that link terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Consequently, climate-mediated changes to coastal terrestrial ecosystems and hydrologic regimes have high potential to influence nearshore ocean chemistry and food web dynamics. Research from tightly coupled, high-flux coastal ecosystems can advance understanding of terrestrial–marine links and climate sensitivities more generally. In the present article, we use the northeast Pacific coastal temperate rainforest as a model system to evaluate such links. We focus on key above- and belowground production and hydrological transport processes that control the land-to-ocean flow of materials and their influence on nearshore marine ecosystems. We evaluate how these connections may be altered by global climate change and we identify knowledge gaps in our understanding of the source, transport, and fate of terrestrial materials along this coastal margin. Finally, we propose five priority research themes in this region that are relevant for understanding coastal ecosystem links more broadly. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Forests are a significant CO2sink. However, CO2sequestration in forests is radiatively offset by emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas, from forest soils. Reforestation, an important strategy for mitigating climate change, has focused on maximizing CO2sequestration in plant biomass without integrating N2O emissions from soils. Although nitrogen (N)‐fixing trees are often recommended for reforestation because of their rapid growth on N‐poor soil, they can stimulate significant N2O emissions from soils. Here, we first used a field experiment to show that a N‐fixing tree (Robinia pseudoacacia) initially mitigated climate change more than a non‐fixing tree (Betula nigra). We then used our field data to parameterize a theoretical model to investigate these effects over time. Under lower N supply, N‐fixers continued to mitigate climate change more than non‐fixers by overcoming N limitation of plant growth. However, under higher N supply, N‐fixers ultimately mitigated climate change less than non‐fixers by enriching soil N and stimulating N2O emissions from soils. These results have implications for reforestation, suggesting that N‐fixing trees are more effective at mitigating climate change at lower N supply, whereas non‐fixing trees are more effective at mitigating climate change at higher N supply.

    more » « less
  6. Abstract

    Symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF) is a key ecological process whose impact depends on the strategy of SNF regulation—the degree to which rates of SNF change in response to limitation by N versus other resources. SNF that is obligate or exhibits incomplete downregulation can result in excess N fixation, whereas a facultative SNF strategy does not. We hypothesized that tree‐based SNF strategies differed by latitude (tropical vs. temperate) and symbiotic type (actinorhizal vs. rhizobial). Specifically, we expected tropical rhizobial symbioses to display strongly facultative SNF as an explanation of their success in low‐latitude forests. In this study we used15N isotope dilution field experiments in New York, Oregon, and Hawaii to determine SNF strategies in six N‐fixing tree symbioses. Nitrogen fertilization with +10 and +15 g N m−2 year−1for 4–5 years alleviated N limitation in all taxa, paving the way to determine SNF strategies. Contrary to our hypothesis, all six of the symbioses we studied sustained SNF even at high N.Robinia pseudoacacia(temperate rhizobial) fixed 91% of its N (%Ndfa) in controls, compared to 64% and 59% in the +10 and +15 g N m−2 year−1treatments. ForAlnus rubra(temperate actinorhizal), %Ndfawas 95%, 70%, and 60%. For the tropical species, %Ndfawas 86%, 80%, and 82% forGliricidia sepium(rhizobial); 79%, 69%, and 67% forCasuarina equisetifolia(actinorhizal); 91%, 42%, and 67% forAcacia koa(rhizobial); and 60%, 51%, and 19% forMorella faya(actinorhizal). Fertilization with phosphorus did not stimulate tree growth or SNF. These results suggest that the latitudinal abundance distribution of N‐fixing trees is not caused by a shift in SNF strategy. They also help explain the excess N in many forests where N fixers are common.

    more » « less
  7. Abstract

    We use the Multiple Element Limitation (MEL) model to examine responses of 12 ecosystems to elevated carbon dioxide (CO2), warming, and 20% decreases or increases in precipitation. Ecosystems respond synergistically to elevated CO2, warming, and decreased precipitation combined because higher water‐use efficiency with elevated CO2and higher fertility with warming compensate for responses to drought. Response to elevated CO2, warming, and increased precipitation combined is additive. We analyze changes in ecosystem carbon (C) based on four nitrogen (N) and four phosphorus (P) attribution factors: (1) changes in total ecosystem N and P, (2) changes in N and P distribution between vegetation and soil, (3) changes in vegetation C:N and C:P ratios, and (4) changes in soil C:N and C:P ratios. In the combined CO2and climate change simulations, all ecosystems gain C. The contributions of these four attribution factors to changes in ecosystem C storage varies among ecosystems because of differences in the initial distributions of N and P between vegetation and soil and the openness of the ecosystem N and P cycles. The net transfer of N and P from soil to vegetation dominates the C response of forests. For tundra and grasslands, the C gain is also associated with increased soil C:N and C:P. In ecosystems with symbiotic N fixation, C gains resulted from N accumulation. Because of differences in N versus P cycle openness and the distribution of organic matter between vegetation and soil, changes in the N and P attribution factors do not always parallel one another. Differences among ecosystems in C‐nutrient interactions and the amount of woody biomass interact to shape ecosystem C sequestration under simulated global change. We suggest that future studies quantify the openness of the N and P cycles and changes in the distribution of C, N, and P among ecosystem components, which currently limit understanding of nutrient effects on C sequestration and responses to elevated CO2and climate change.

    more » « less
  8. Abstract

    Accurately quantifying rates and patterns of biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) in terrestrial ecosystems is essential to characterize ecological and biogeochemical interactions, identify mechanistic controls, improve BNF representation in conceptual and numerical modelling, and forecast nitrogen limitation constraints on future carbon (C) cycling.

    While many resources address the technical advantages and limitations of different methods for measuring BNF, less systematic consideration has been given to the broader decisions involved in planning studies, interpreting data, and extrapolating results. Here, we present a conceptual and practical road map to study design, study execution, data analysis and scaling, outlining key considerations at each step.

    We address issues including defining N‐fixing niches of interest, identifying important sources of temporal and spatial heterogeneity, designing a sampling scheme (including method selection, measurement conditions, replication, and consideration of hotspots and hot moments), and approaches to analysing, scaling and reporting BNF. We also review the comparability of estimates derived using different approaches in the literature, and provide sample R code for simulating symbiotic BNF data frames and upscaling.

    Improving and standardizing study design at each of these stages will improve the accuracy and interpretability of data, define limits of extrapolation, and facilitate broader use of BNF data for downstream applications. We highlight aspects—such as quantifying scales of heterogeneity, statistical approaches for dealing with non‐normality, and consideration of rates versus ecological significance—that are ripe for further development.

    more » « less
  9. Abstract

    Nitrogen (N) is a key nutrient that shapes cycles of other essential elements in forests, including calcium (Ca). When N availability exceeds ecosystem demands, excess N can stimulate Ca leaching and deplete Ca from soils. Over the long term, these processes may alter the proportion of available Ca that is derived from atmospheric deposition vs. bedrock weathering, which has fundamental consequences for ecosystem properties and nutrient supply. We evaluated how landscape variation in soil N, reflecting long‐term legacies of biological N fixation, influenced plant and soil Ca availability and ecosystem Ca sources across 22 temperate forests in Oregon. We also examined interactions between soil N and bedrock Ca using soil N gradients on contrasting basaltic vs. sedimentary bedrock that differed 17‐fold in underlying Ca content. We found that low‐N forests on Ca‐rich basaltic bedrock relied strongly on Ca from weathering, but that soil N enrichment depleted readily weatherable mineral Ca and shifted forest reliance toward atmospheric Ca. Forests on Ca‐poor sedimentary bedrock relied more consistently on atmospheric Ca across all levels of soil N enrichment. The broad importance of atmospheric Ca was unexpected given active regional uplift and erosion that are thought to rejuvenate weathering supply of soil minerals. Despite different Ca sources to forests on basaltic vs. sedimentary bedrock, we observed consistent declines in plant and soil Ca availability with increasing N, regardless of the Ca content of underlying bedrock. Thus, traditional measures of Ca availability in foliage and soil exchangeable pools may poorly reflect long‐term Ca sources that sustain soil fertility. We conclude that long‐term soil N enrichment can deplete available Ca and cause forests to rely increasingly on Ca from atmospheric deposition, which may limit ecosystem Ca supply in an increasingly N‐rich world.

    more » « less