Nitrogen losses from perennial grass species.

B.R. Vazquez de Aldana, R. Geerts, F. Berendse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Nitrogen losses from plants may occur through a variety of pathways, but so far, most studies have only quantified losses of nutrients by above-ground litter production. We used 15 N pulse labelling to quantify total nitrogen losses from above- and below-ground plant parts. Using this method we were able to include also pathways other than above-ground litter production. To test the hypothesis that species from nutrient-poor habitats lose less nitrogen than species from more fertile soils, six perennial grasses from habitats with a wide range of nutrient availability were investigated: Lolium perenne, Arrhenatherum elatius, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Festuca ntbra, F. ovina and Molinia caerulea. The results of an experiment carried out in pots in a green-house at two fertility levels show that statistically significant losses occur through pathways other than above-ground litter production. In the low fertility treatment, most (70€losses from L. perenne occurred by litter production, but in Ar. elatius, F. rubra, F. ovina and M. caerulea, more than 50 f labelled N losses took place by root turn-over, leaching or exudation from roots. When nutrient supply increased, the 15 N losses in above-ground dead material increased in all species and in Ar. elatius, A. odoratum and F. rubra the 15 N losses via other pathways decreased. Ranked according to decreasing turnover coefficient the sequence of species was: L. perenne, A. odoratum, F. rubra, F. ovina, Ar. elatius, M. caerulea. These results suggest that species adapted to sites with low availability of nutrients lose less nitrogen (including above- and below-ground losses) than species adapted to more fertile soils.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-143
Publication statusPublished - 1996

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