Elevated atmospheric CO2 and species mixture alter N acquisition of trees in stand microcosms Academic Article uri icon


  • The potential for elevated atmospheric CO2 to increase forest growth depends on how it affects plant acquisition of soil nitrogen (N) in realistic competitive settings. We grew seedling microcosms in large (0.6-m2) boxes of forest soil placed outdoors in CO2-controlled open-top chambers. Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua L.) were grown as single-species stands (monocultures) and as 50:50 pine:sweetgum mixtures, with a factorial combination of CO2 (ambient, twice ambient) and soil water (dry, moist) for two growing seasons. We added N, enriched with 15N, 2 months after planting and used N and 15N content of microcosm components to evaluate treatment effects. Under ambient CO2, species mixture decreased biomass and N accumulation of pine compared with pine in monoculture. Elevated CO2 partially to fully ameliorated this negative effect of species mixture for pine by increasing its biomass and N accumulation irrespective of competitive setting. Sweetgum biomass and N accumulation were improved in mixed culture (compared with monoculture) under moist conditions. However, only sweetgum biomass (not N) responded positively to increasing CO2. Our study suggests that increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration may provide a competitive advantage to pine growing in mixture with sweetgum in low fertility forest soils.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Friend, A. L., Jifon, J. L., Berrang, P. C., Seiler, J. R., & Mobley, J. A.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Friend, AL||Jifon, JL||Berrang, PC||Seiler, JR||Mobley, JA

publication date

  • May 2000