Responses of ecosystem nitrogen cycle to nitrogen addition: A meta-analysis

Meng Lu, Yuanhe Yang, Yiqi Luo, Changming Fang, Xuhui Zhou, Jiakuan Chen, Xin Yang, Bo Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

409 Scopus citations


Anthropogenic nitrogen (N) addition may substantially alter the terrestrial N cycle. However, a comprehensive understanding of how the ecosystem N cycle responds to external N input remains elusive. Here, we evaluated the central tendencies of the responses of 15 variables associated with the ecosystem N cycle to N addition, using data extracted from 206 peer-reviewed papers. Our results showed that the largest changes in the ecosystem N cycle caused by N addition were increases in soil inorganic N leaching (461%), soil NO3- concentration (429%), nitrification (154%), nitrous oxide emission (134%), and denitrification (84%). N addition also substantially increased soil NH4+ concentration (47%), and the N content in belowground (53%) and aboveground (44%) plant pools, leaves (24%), litter (24%) and dissolved organic N (21%). Total N content in the organic horizon (6.1%) and mineral soil (6.2%) slightly increased in response to N addition. However, N addition induced a decrease in microbial biomass N by 5.8%. The increases in N effluxes caused by N addition were much greater than those in plant and soil pools except soil NO3-, suggesting a leaky terrestrial N system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1040-1050
Number of pages11
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Agricultural ecosystems
  • Leaky nitrogen system
  • Nitrogen deposition
  • Nitrogen fertilization
  • Nitrogen limitation
  • Nitrogen pools and fluxes
  • Nonagricultural ecosystems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Responses of ecosystem nitrogen cycle to nitrogen addition: A meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this