The dataset includes approximately 650 tree core measurements from five sites. The study part of a joint project between the Forest Ecology Lab and Soil Science Lab at The Morton Arboretum. For more information, see the CUFS website.
Project conducted in 2012. Cores were collected in 1976 and 2008-2011.
Invasive and native forbs and shrubs were identified by Rollinson, Lie, and Dhyani, and Duckett in the King’s Grove area of the Hidden Lake Forest Preserve. Monitoring is primarily conducted by Liu and Dhyani. Forbs include invasive garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), geum, and ___. Shrubs include invasive buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), invasive honeysuckle (genus Lonicera), and black raspberry (Genus Rubus). Forb traits monitored include initial growth, leaves, flowers/flower buds, open flowers, fruits, ripe fruits, and recent fruit/seed drop. Shrub traits monitored include bud burst, leaves, leaf size, leaf color, leaf fall, flowers/flower buds, open flowers, pollen release, fruits, ripe fruits, and fruit/seed drop. Both forb and shrub monitoring follow National Phenology Network Protocols.
Tree species affect the biogeochemistry of soil differently. Understanding these effects provides not only insight into current forest function, but also better informs predictions of how shifting forest composition will influence soils in the future. Our objective was to assess if a tree species’ phylogenetic leaf habit or mycorrhizal fungi association is a better predictor of soil biogeochemistry in temperate forests. This study took place in single-species forestry plots throughout the Morton Arboretum (DuPage County, IL). Plots varied by leaf habit (evergreen or deciduous) and known mycorrhizal fungi association (ectomycorrhizal or arbuscular). We collected a composite sample of four cores per plot in June 2018 from both the forest floor (0-5 cm) and mineral soil (5-15 cm) layers. The soil layers were analyzed separately using a two-way ANOVA (P < 0.05, DF=1). We found that both leaf habit and mycorrhizal fungi association can predict a tree’s effects upon soil, and that which factor is the better predictor depends on the nutrient process being measured. In both soil layers, leaf habit predicts percent organic matter (P= 0.0128) and carbon mineralization (P= 0.0095). A linear regression suggested that carbon mineralization is driven by percent organic matter (R² = 0.7482, P= 5.079 e -12). Both leaf habit and type of mycorrhizal fungi association predict C:N ratio in the forest floor layer (Leaf P= 0.0263, Fungi P= 0.0005). Type of mycorrhizal association predicted differences in forest floor pH (P= 0.0001). A linear regression suggested that 30% of differences in pH were driven by exchangeable calcium (Ca2+) (R² = 0.3038, P= 0.0004943). As arbuscular associating trees (usually deciduous) become more dominant in the Chicago region, a trait based framework for predicting soil nutrient changes could aid in the management and mitigation of nutrient cycling and overall ecosystem productivity.
Nutrient availability influences key processes for plants in all ecosystems with nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) most limiting terrestrial ecosystems. Foliar N and P concentrations have been commonly used as indicators of plant nutritional status. Tropical forests are known to have the highest foliar N:P globally which mirrors a greater degree of P limitation compared to other forests. We tested how plants respond to chronic N and P fertilization by analyzing soil and foliar N and P concentrations from a long term fertilization experiment in Costa Rica. As foliar nutrient concentrations often reflect soil nutrient availability, we had found that this may not have been the case for our samples. Total soil N had not changed significantly but foliar N was affected. We also found that available soil P had increased with chronic fertilization but foliar P was unaffected. There was an overall species effect on foliar nutrient concentrations reflecting the plant specific response to nutrient additions. Here we have added to the knowledge of how plants in tropical forests respond to changes in nutrient availability is important to predict how they will respond to anthropogenic alterations in nutrient cycles, such as N deposition.
Recent developments in Earth System Models have granted researchers attempting to model global climate change significant new ability (Fisher et al., 2017). These models use carbon dioxide output and sequestration rates to calculate atmospheric CO2 levels and the Earth’s potential to trap heat (Dybzinski, 2019). However, the models are only as good as the assumptions they make; due to a lack of research into the topic, different terrestrial models commonly make contradictory assumptions about the roles of nitrogen availability and fine root mass in a tree’s rate of nitrogen uptake, leading to inaccuracy and inconsistency (Dybzinski et al., 2019). As most of North American tree growth is nitrogen-limited, the rate at which a particular species is able to absorb nitrogen is critical to its ability to grow and take up carbon--and to the models aiming to predict these rates. In this study, we attempted to quantify the true roles of each factor in tree nitrogen uptake rate and predicted that nitrogen availability would have far greater effect than fine root mass. In 18 single-species plots at the Morton Arboretum, we obtained the nitrate and ammonium availability per area, fine root mass of target species per area, and nitrogen uptake rate of the plot’s target species trees per area. We found that there is blankity blank relationship between fine root mass and uptake rate and absolutely blank relationship between nitrogen availability and uptake rate. We hope that these results will be incorporated into existing ESM models to allow for more accurate assessments of forests across the world and to inform efforts to understand global carbon sequestration.