Nitrogen dynamics in managed boreal forests: Recent advances and future research directions
Ambio. 2016;45 Suppl 2:175-87
Sponseller RA, Gundale MJ, Futter M, Ring E, Nordin A, Näsholm T, Laudon H
Nitrogen (N) availability plays multiple roles in the boreal landscape, as a limiting nutrient to forest growth, determinant of terrestrial biodiversity, and agent of eutrophication in aquatic ecosystems. We review existing research on forest N dynamics in northern landscapes and address the effects of management and environmental change on internal cycling and export. Current research foci include resolving the nutritional importance of different N forms to trees and establishing how tree-mycorrhizal relationships influence N limitation. In addition, understanding how forest responses to external N inputs are mediated by above- and belowground ecosystem compartments remains an important challenge. Finally, forestry generates a mosaic of successional patches in managed forest landscapes, with differing levels of N input, biological demand, and hydrological loss. The balance among these processes influences the temporal patterns of stream water chemistry and the long-term viability of forest growth. Ultimately, managing forests to keep pace with increasing demands for biomass production, while minimizing environmental degradation, will require multi-scale and interdisciplinary perspectives on landscape N dynamics.
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