Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2012, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (4): 346-352.DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1258.2012.00346

Special Issue: 稳定同位素生态学 全球变化与生态系统 生态学研究的技术和方法

• Review • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Use of 15N natural abundance in nitrogen cycling of terrestrial ecosystems

YAO Fan-Yun1,2,*(),ZHU Biao3,DU En-Zai1   

  1. 1Department of Ecology, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, and Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of Ministry of Education, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    2School of Urban Planning and Design, Peking University, Shenzhen Graduate School, Shenzhen 518055, China
    3Department of Horticulture, Cornell University, New York 14853, USA
  • Received:2011-10-18 Accepted:2012-01-16 Online:2012-10-18 Published:2012-03-28
  • Contact: YAO Fan-Yun


Stable isotope technique has been widely used in ecology research with the increasing concern on global change. Our objectives are to better understand the impacts of nitrogen addition and other environment changes on the nitrogen cycling of terrestrial ecosystem, predict the consequent changes in environmental conditions, and provide a reference for policy making to help ensure the sustainable development of terrestrial ecosystems. Based on the relationship between nitrogen (N) isotope composition (δ 15N) in ecosystem N status and soil N cycle, we summarized the effects and mechanisms of N input and other environment changes on δ 15N of plant and soil. Most studies show significant positive relationships between N input and δ 15N values of plant and soil. Higher N input increases soil N availability, which leads to 15N enrichment in soil because of mass discrimination during soil N cycling processes. Foliar δ 15N also will be higher as plants take up the relatively 15N-enriched soil available N. 15N natural abundance can be a useful tool for assessing nitrogen saturation and N cycling.

Key words: nitrogen cycling, plant, soil, δ 15N