Plant acclimation to long-term high nitrogen deposition in an N-rich tropical forest

Xiankai Lu, Peter M. Vitousek, Qinggong Mao, Frank S. Gilliam, Yiqi Luo, Guoyi Zhou, Xiaoming Zou, Edith Bai, Todd M. Scanlon, Enqing Hou, Jiangming Mo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


Anthropogenic nitrogen (N) deposition has accelerated terrestrial N cycling at regional and global scales, causing nutrient imbalance in many natural and seminatural ecosystems. How added N affects ecosystems where N is already abundant, and how plants acclimate to chronic N deposition in such circumstances, remains poorly understood. Here, we conducted an experiment employing a decade of N additions to examine ecosystem responses and plant acclimation to added N in an N-rich tropical forest. We found that N additions accelerated soil acidification and reduced biologically available cations (especially Ca and Mg) in soils, but plants maintained foliar nutrient supply at least in part by increasing transpiration while decreasing soil water leaching below the rooting zone. We suggest a hypothesis that cation-deficient plants can adjust to elevated N deposition by increasing transpiration and thereby maintaining nutrient balance. This result suggests that long-term elevated N deposition can alter hydrological cycling in N-rich forest ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5187-5192
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 15 2018


  • Nutrient balance
  • Plant acclimation
  • Soil acidification
  • Transpiration
  • Water use strategy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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