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Effects of local changes in active layer and soil climate on seasonal foliar nitrogen concentrations of three boreal forest shrubs

TitleEffects of local changes in active layer and soil climate on seasonal foliar nitrogen concentrations of three boreal forest shrubs
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsRohrs-Richey, JK, Mulder, CPH
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Volume37
Pagination383–394
Abstract

Caribou Poker Creeks Research Watershed is a boreal forest watershed in Interior Alaska that is susceptible to regional warming and permafrost thaw. We measured seasonal foliar N concentrations of the black spruce understory shrubs, Vaccinium uliginosum L., Vaccinium vitis-idaea L., and Ledum palustre L. on north- and south-facing sides of the watershed. We predicted that the shrubs would respond to small-scale changes in active layer and soil climate, and we expected similar responses according to growth strategy (evergreen or deciduous). Overall, foliar N in shrubs was higher on warmer, drier soils with deep active layers:+7.9% N in V. uliginosum,+11.1% N inV. vitis-idaea, and+9.4% N in L. palustre. Each shrub had species-specific foliar N patterns that could not be categorized by growth strategy and were not well explained by soil climate or active layer. Leaf mineral nutrition is influenced by multiple processes, and foliar N was best explained by the combination of environmental variables operating at the study site. For Caribou Poker Creeks Research Watershed, we can expect increased N status of the black spruce understory along with continued climate warming, but changes cannot be predicted based on growth strategy.

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