Inverse analysis of coupled carbon-nitrogen cycles against multiple datasets at ambient and elevated CO2

Zheng Shi, Yuanhe Yang, Xuhui Zhou, Ensheng Weng, Adrien C. Finzi, Yiqi Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Aims Carbon (C) sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems is strongly regulated by nitrogen (N) processes. However, key parameters that determine the degree of N regulation on terrestrial C sequestration have not been well quantified. Methods Here, we used a Bayesian probabilistic inversion approach to estimate 14 target parameters related to ecosystem C and N interactions from 19 datasets obtained from Duke Forests under ambient and elevated carbon dioxide (CO2). Important Findings Our results indicated that 8 of the 14 target parameters, such as C:N ratios in most ecosystem compartments, plant N uptake and external N input, were well constrained by available datasets whereas the others, such as N allocation coefficients, N loss and the initial value of mineral N pool were poorly constrained. Our analysis showed that elevated CO2 led to the increases in C:N ratios in foliage, fine roots and litter. Moreover, elevated CO2 stimulated plant N uptake and increased ecosystem N capital in Duke Forests by 25.2 and 8.5%, respectively. In addition, elevated CO2 resulted in the decrease of C exit rates (i.e. increases in C residence times) in foliage, woody biomass, structural litter and passive soil organic matter, but the increase of C exit rate in fine roots. Our results demonstrated that CO2 enrichment substantially altered key parameters in determining terrestrial C and N interactions, which have profound implications for model improvement and predictions of future C sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems in response to global change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-295
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Plant Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 10 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Bayesian probabilistic inversion
  • Duke FACE
  • carbon-nitrogen coupled model
  • carbon-nitrogen interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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