Effects of Elevated CO2 and Nitrogen Loading on the Defensive Traits of Three Successional Deciduous Broad-Leaved Tree Seedlings
To elucidate changes in the defensive traits of tree seedlings under global environmental changes, we evaluated foliar defensive traits of the seedlings of successional trees, such as beech, oak, and magnolia grown in a natural-light phytotron. Potted seedlings were grown under the combination of two CO2 concentrations (360 vs. 720 ppm) and two nitrogen (N) treatments (4 vs. 15 kg N ha1 yr1) for two growing seasons using quantitative chemical analyses and anatomical method. We hypothesized that the effects of CO2 and N depend on the successional type, with late successional species providing greater defense of their leaves against herbivores, as this species exhibits determinate growth. Beech, a late successional species, responded the most to both elevated CO2 concentration (eCO2) and high N treatment. eCO2 and low N supply enhanced the defensive traits, such as the high leaf mass per area (LMA), high carbon to N ratio (C/N ratio), and increase in the concentrations of total phenolic and condensed tannin in agreement with the carbon–nutrient balance (CNB) hypothesis. High N supply decreased the C/N ratio due to the high N uptake in beech leaves. Oak, a mid–late successional species, exhibited different responses from beech: eCO2 enhanced the LMA, C/N ratio, and concentration of total phenolics of oak leaves, but only condensed tannin increased under high N supply. Magnolia did not respond to all treatments. No interactive effects were observed between CO2 and N supply in all species, except for the concentration of total phenolics in oak. Although the amounts of phenolic compounds in beech and oak varied under eCO2 and high N treatments, the distribution of these compounds did not change. Our results indicate that the changes in the defensive traits of forest tree species under eCO2 with N loading are related to the successional type.
The full article appeared on the Forests website at https://www.mdpi.com/1999-4907/12/7/939/htm]]>