Dataset Open Access

Data from: Centennial-scale reductions in nitrogen availability in temperate forests of the United States

McLauchlan, K. K.; Gerhart, L. M.; Battles, J. J.; Craine, J. M.; Elmore, A. J.; Higuera, P. E.; Mack, M. C.; McNeil, B. E.; Nelson, D. M.; Pederson, N.; Perakis, S. S.

Forests cover 30% of the terrestrial Earth surface and are a major component of the global carbon (C) cycle. Humans have doubled the amount of global reactive nitrogen (N), increasing deposition of N onto forests worldwide. However, other global changes—especially climate change and elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations—are increasing demand for N, the element limiting primary productivity in temperate forests, which could be reducing N availability. To determine the long-term, integrated effects of global changes on forest N cycling, we measured stable N isotopes in wood, a proxy for N supply relative to demand, on large spatial and temporal scales across the continental U.S.A. Here, we show that forest N availability has generally declined across much of the U.S. since at least 1850 C.E. with cool, wet forests demonstrating the greatest declines. Across sites, recent trajectories of N availability were independent of recent atmospheric N deposition rates, implying a minor role for modern N deposition on the trajectory of N status of North American forests. Our results demonstrate that current trends of global changes are likely to be consistent with forest oligotrophication into the foreseeable future, further constraining forest C fixation and potentially storage.

Funding provided by: National Science Foundation
Crossref Funder Registry ID: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100000001
Award Number: DEB-1455894

Files (3.1 MB)
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InputBAI01.csv
md5:21830770f974acfb98a1bb1078414882
2.4 MB Download
InputData15N.csv
md5:c9e25a79f8f6a9c7070b46886053a42c
604.2 kB Download
InputDataSite.csv
md5:b15430f38736a7303e7ba5827d183bb8
3.8 kB Download
ModelPlot.ContinentalN.R
md5:1b13955a3de670e80ba77fe6e3777212
28.6 kB Download
README_for_ModelPlot.ContinentalN.txt
md5:a4fdc2890951161d39fed5e4c72b5252
290 Bytes Download
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