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Uptake and Distribution of Nitrogen from Acidic Fog within a Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa Laws.)/Litter/Soil System

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The magnitude and importance of wet deposition of N in forests of the South Coast (Los Angeles) Air Basin have not been well characterized. We exposed 3-yr-old ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Laws.) seedlings growing in native forest soil to acidic fog treatments (pH 3.1) simulating fog chemistry from a pine forest near Los Angeles, California. Fog solutions contained either 15NH+4, 15NO-3, or unlabeled N. The fog treatments were applied in open-top chambers in six 5-hr exposures. Soil treatments within each of the fog exposures were bare soil, soil overlain with L- and F-litter, and soil covered with plastic during the fog events to prevent fogwater from contacting soil. Seedlings were harvested and samples were collected 15 wk after the fog treatments. Uptake of 15N by roots was by far the dominant pathway for plant assimilation of fog-deposited 15N. Deposition of N in fog supplied 9.4% and 8.7% of the total N in current-year crown biomass in the litter-overlay and bare-soil treatments, respectively. Total N concentrations in every plant fraction except current-year stems were significantly higher in the bare-soil treatment than in the plastic-covered soil treatment. Less than 5% of the 15N deposited directly to the seedling crowns was retained by the plants in the covered-soil treatment, whereas 57% of the 15N deposited to the seedling/litter/soil systems was incorporated into plant biomass. The litter layers retained 15NH+4 more effectively than 15NO3. Data from this study suggest that N deposited from fog may be an important source of N for plant growth in forests of the SCAB where fog occurrence and pollution exposure coincide. For. Sci. 41(4):645-663.

Keywords: Nitrogen deposition; ammonium; nitrate; nitrogen saturation; nutrient cycling; wet deposition

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Research Plant Pathologist, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Box 227, Stoneville, MS 38776

Publication date: November 1, 1995

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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.
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