King's College London

Research portal

Increases in the flux of carbon belowground stimulate nitrogen uptake and sustain the long-term enhancement of forest productivity under elevated CO2

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

John E. Drake, Anne Gallet-Budynek, Kirsten S. Hofmockel, Emily S. Bernhardt, Sharon A. Billings, Robert B. Jackson, Kurt S. Johnsen, John Lichter, Heather R. McCarthy, M. Luke McCormack, David J. P. Moore, Ram Oren, Sari Palmroth, Richard P. Phillips, Jeffrey S. Pippen, Seth G. Pritchard, Kathleen K. Treseder, William H. Schlesinger, Evan H. DeLucia, Adrien C. Finzi

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349 - 357
Number of pages9
Issue number4
PublishedApr 2011

King's Authors


P>The earth's future climate state is highly dependent upon changes in terrestrial C storage in response to rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2. Here we show that consistently enhanced rates of net primary production (NPP) are sustained by a C-cascade through the root-microbe-soil system; increases in the flux of C belowground under elevated CO2 stimulated microbial activity, accelerated the rate of soil organic matter decomposition and stimulated tree uptake of N bound to this SOM. This process set into motion a positive feedback maintaining greater C gain under elevated CO2 as a result of increases in canopy N content and higher photosynthetic N-use efficiency. The ecosystem-level consequence of the enhanced requirement for N and the exchange of plant C for N belowground is the dominance of C storage in tree biomass but the preclusion of a large C sink in the soil.

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454