N-fixing trees in restoration plantings: Effects on nitrogen supply and soil microbial communities

Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
Get full text


Mixed-species restoration tree plantings are being established increasingly, contributing to mitigate climate change and restore ecosystems. Including nitrogen (N)-fixing tree species may increase carbon (C) sequestration in mixed-species plantings, as these species may substantially increase soil C beneath them. We need to better understand the role of N-fixers in mixed-species plantings to potentially maximize soil C sequestration in these systems. Here, we present a field-based study that asked two specific questions related to the inclusion of N-fixing trees in a mixed-species planting: 1) Do non-N-fixing trees have access to N derived from fixation of atmospheric N2 by neighbouring N-fixing trees? 2) Do soil microbial communities differ under N-fixing trees and non-N-fixing trees in a mixed-species restoration planting? We sampled leaves from the crowns, and litter and soils beneath the crowns of two N-fixing and two non-N-fixing tree species that dominated the planting. Using the 15N natural abundance method, we found indications that fixed atmospheric N was utilized by the non-N-fixing trees, most likely through tight root connections or organic forms of N from the litter layer, rather than through the decomposition of N-fixers litter. While the two N-fixing tree species that were studied appeared to fix atmospheric N, they were substantially different in terms of C and N addition to the soil, as well as microbial community composition beneath them. This shows that the effect of N-fixing tree species on soil carbon sequestration is species-specific, cannot be generalized and requires planting trails to determine if there will be benefits to carbon sequestration. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.




Hoogmoed, M., Cunningham, S. C., Baker, P., Beringer, J., & Cavagnaro, T. R. (2014). N-fixing trees in restoration plantings: Effects on nitrogen supply and soil microbial communities. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 77, 203–212. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2014.06.008

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free