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Radial growth of Norway spruce and Scots pine: effects of nitrogen deposition experiments

Journal article
Authors Kristina Seftigen
Filip Moldan
Hans W. Linderholm
Published in European Journal of Forest Research
Volume 132
Issue 1
Pages 83-92
ISSN 1612-4669
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 83-92
Language en
Keywords Radial growth; Tree rings; Dendrochronology; N addition; Acidic exclusion; Field experiments
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences, Climate Research


The growth patterns of annually resolved tree rings are good indicators of local environmental changes, making dendrochronology a valuable tool in air pollution research. In the present study, tree-ring analysis was used to assess the effects of 16 years (1991–2007) of chronic nitrogen (N) deposition, and 10 years (1991–2001) of reduced nitrogen input, on the radial growth of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) growing in the experimental area of Lake Ga°rdsjo¨n, southwest Sweden. In addition to the ambient input of c. 15 kg N ha-1 year-1, dissolved NH4NO3 was experimentally added to a 0.52-ha watershed at a rate of c. 40 kg ha-1 year-1. Atmospheric N depositions were reduced by means of a below-canopy plastic roof, which covered a 0.63-ha catchment adjacent to the fertilized site. The paired design of the experiment allowed tree growth in the N-treated sites to be compared with the growth at a reference plot receiving ambient N deposition. Nitrogen fertilization had a negative impact on pine growth, while no changes were observed in spruce. Similarly, the reduction in N and other acidifying compounds resulted in a tendency towards improved radial growth of pine, but it did not significantly affect the spruce growth. These results suggest that spruce is less susceptible to changes in the acidification and N status of the forest ecosystem than pine, at least in the Ga°rdsjo¨n area.

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