Forests are a significant CO2 sink. However, CO2 sequestration in forests is radiatively offset by emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas, from forest soils. Reforestation, an important strategy for mitigating climate change, has focused on maximizing CO2 sequestration in plant biomass without integrating N2O emissions from soils. Although nitrogen (N)-fixing trees are often recommended for reforestation because of their rapid growth on N-poor soil, they can stimulate significant N2O emissions from soils. Here, we first used a field experiment to show that a N-fixing tree (Robinia pseudoacacia) initially mitigated climate change more than a non-fixing tree (Betula nigra). We then used our field data to parameterize a theoretical model to investigate these effects over time. Under lower N supply, N-fixers continued to mitigate climate change more than non-fixers by overcoming N limitation of plant growth. However, under higher N supply, N-fixers ultimately mitigated climate change less than non-fixers by enriching soil N and stimulating N2O emissions from soils. These results have implications for reforestation, suggesting that N-fixing trees are more effective at mitigating climate change at lower N supply, whereas non-fixing trees are more effective at mitigating climate change at higher N supply.
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||N supply mediates the radiative balance of N2O emissions and CO2 sequestration driven by N-fixing vs. non-fixing trees|
|Contributing office(s)||Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center|
|Description||e03414, 8 p.|
|Other Geospatial||Black Rock Forest|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|