Soil [N] modulates soil C cycling in CO2-fumigated tree stands: A meta-analysis

W. I J Dieleman*, S. Luyssaert, A. Rey, P. De Angelis, C. V M Barton, M. S J Broadmeadow, S. B. Broadmeadow, K. S. Chigwerewe, M. Crookshanks, E. Dufrêne, P. G. Jarvis, A. Kasurinen, S. Kellomäki, V. Le Dantec, M. Liberloo, M. Marek, B. Medlyn, R. Pokornỳ, G. Scarascia-Mugnozza, V. M. TempertonD. Tingey, O. Urban, R. Ceulemans, I. A. Janssens

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    64 Citations (Scopus)


    Under elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations, soil carbon (C) inputs are typically enhanced, suggesting larger soil C sequestration potential. However, soil C losses also increase and progressive nitrogen (N) limitation to plant growth may reduce the CO2 effect on soil C inputs with time. We compiled a data set from 131 manipulation experiments, and used meta-analysis to test the hypotheses that: (1) elevated atmospheric CO2 stimulates soil C inputs more than C losses, resulting in increasing soil C stocks; and (2) that these responses are modulated by N. Our results confirm that elevated CO2 induces a C allocation shift towards below-ground biomass compartments. However, the increased soil C inputs were offset by increased heterotrophic respiration (Rh), such that soil C content was not affected by elevated CO2. Soil N concentration strongly interacted with CO2 fumigation: the effect of elevated CO2 on fine root biomass and -production and on microbial activity increased with increasing soil N concentration, while the effect on soil C content decreased with increasing soil N concentration. These results suggest that both plant growth and microbial activity responses to elevated CO2 are modulated by N availability, and that it is essential to account for soil N concentration in C cycling analyses.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2001-2011
    Number of pages11
    JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


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