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Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation in Regenerating Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.) Stands

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Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.) is a dominant early successional tree in the southern Appalachians that symbiotically fixes N, grows rapidly, and has a relatively short life span. Objectives of this research were to study seasonal patterns of nodule biomass and N-fixation activity in 4-year-old black locust stands over the span of one year, and to determine the importance of symbiotic N fixation as an input to a regenerating forest at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory. Acetylene (C2H2) reduction activity for nodules >3 mm in length was highest during midday assays in June and September, attaining maximum values of 1.00 l c2H4 mg dw hr-1 and 0.94 l c2H4 mg dw hr-1, respectively. No activity was detected in November and March. Live nodule biomass was mostly (67 percent) concentrated in the upper 15 cm of soil. Nodule biomass decreased from 3.59 g m-2 in May to 0.83 g m-2 in November potentially because of a summer drought during the study year. The 4-year-old stands were estimated to have fixed 30 kg N ha-1 yr-1 during the study period. Nitrogen input to the early successional forest from symbiotic fixation is large in comparison to atmospheric inputs of N and free-living N fixation reported by other investigators. Forest Sci. 30:528-537.

Keywords: Forest regeneration; nodule biomass; succession

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Principal Plant Ecologist, USDA Forest Service, Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, Otto, North Carolina 28736

Publication date: June 1, 1984

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  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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