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Carbon allocation and nitrogen acquisition in a developing Populus deltoides plantation

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Coleman, Mark D.; Kern, Christel C.

Year Published



Tree Physiology 24:1347-1357


We established Populus deltoides Bartr. stands differing in nitrogen (N) availability and tested if: (1) N-induced carbon (C) allocation could be explained by developmental allocation controls; and (2) N uptake per unit root mass, i.e., specific N-uptake rate, increased with N availability. Closely spaced (1 x 1 m) stands were treated with 50, 100 and 200 kg N ha-1 year-1 of time-release balanced fertilizer (50N, 100N and 200N) and compared with unfertilized controls (0N). Measurements were made during two complete growing seasons from May 1998 through October 1999. Repeated nondestructive measurements were carried out to determine stem height and diameter, leaf area and fine-root dynamics. In October of both years, above- and belowground biomass was harvested, including soil cores for fine-root biomass. Leaves were harvested in July 1999. Harvested tissues were analyzed for C and N content. Nondestructive stem diameter and and fine-root dynamic measurements were combined with destructive harvest data to estimate whole-tree biomass and N content at the end of the year, and to estimate specific N-uptake rates during the 1999 growing season. Shoot growth response was greater in fertilized trees than in control trees; however, the 100N and 200N treatments did not enhance growth more than the 50N treatment. Root biomass proportions decreased over time and with increasing fertilizer treatment. Fertilizer-induced changes in allocation were explained by accelerated development. Specific N-uptake rates increased during the growing season and were higher for fertilized trees than for control trees.


belowground allocation; carbon sequestration; functional equilibrium; ontogenetic drift; phytoremediation; short rotation woody crops; specfic nutrient uptake


Coleman, Mark D.; Friend, Alexander L.; Kern, Christel C. 2004. Carbon allocation and nitrogen acquisition in a developing Populus deltoides plantation. Tree Physiology 24:1347-1357

Last updated on: January 18, 2008