Determinants of 15N Natural Abundance in Leaves of Co-Occurring Plant Species and Types within an Alpine Lichen Heath in the Northern Caucasus

M.I. Makarov, V.G. Onipchenko, T.I. Malysheva, R.S.P van Logtestijn, N.A. Soudzilovskaia, J.H.C. Cornelissen

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Several factors may have interactive effects on natural 15N abundance of plant species. Some of these effects could be associated with different plant functional types, including mycorrhizal association type. Due to its high taxonomic and functional diversity, the alpine heath community in the Caucasus is a suitable object for studying '5N natural abundance of plants in relation to different functionallmycorrhizal groups, contrasting with the limited numbers of plant groups or species considered in previous studies of individual communities. The N concentration and 8'5N were determined in leaves of 25 plant species from 8 functionallmycorrhizal groups from an alpine lichen heath in the Teberda Reserve, Northern Caucasus, Russia. Functional groups were represented by ericoid mycorrhizal species (ERI), ectomycorrhizal species (ECT), arbuscular mycorrhizal forbs (AM-FORB), arbuscular mycorrhizal grasses (AM- GRA), arbuscular mycorrhizal nodulated legumes (FAB-N), non-mycorrhizal graminoids (sedges and rushes) (NOM-CIRA), non-mycorrhizal hemiparasites (NOM-SP), and orchids (ORC). We can summarize our results in two rankings for leaf N concentration (FAB-N > ORC > AM-FORB, ECT> NOM-SP, ERI ≥ NOM-GRA, AM-GRA) and leaf 5N signature (ORC> NOM-GRA, FAB-N > ECT ≥ ERI ≥ AM-FORB, NOM-SP, AM-GRA) of alpine heath species. We conclude that, within the alpine lichen heath in the Northern Caucasus, the 6'5N signature of plant foliage is a relevant indicator of plant functional groups with relatively high '5N content (ORC, FAB-N, NOM-GRA), while the absence of a significant difference between relatively 5N-depleted groups (AM, ERI, and ECT species) isn't clear and may result from both processes, as the increased N isotope fractionation by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi as the decreased role of ecto- and ericoid mycorrhizal fungi in the flux of N.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)581-590
    JournalArctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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