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Do fertilized trees grow faster? 
Looking for a growth response in three 
MELNHE stands 
Shoestring REU 
Eli Egan-Anderson 
Cornell ‘15
Background 
 Nitrogen (N) is one of the major limiting 
nutrients for net primary production (NPP) 
and is required in large amounts by plants 
(Vitousek and 
Howarth 1991) 
It is one of the 
requirements of 
photosynthesis
Co-limitation 
 Multiple Element Limitation (MEL) describes 
plants effort allocation for acquiring different 
nutrients (Rastetter 1997) 
 Phosphorus (P) has been found to be a major 
limiting factor when N is available in large 
quantities (Walker and Syers 1976) 
 In N+P plots there are larger amounts of 
organically available N than in plots where just 
N was added (Fisk et al 2014)
Predictions for the Study 
 I expect to see positive growth in all stands 
where fertilizer has been added 
More growth in N plots of younger stands 
I expect the most growth will be found in N+P 
plots at young ages
Methods 
 Diameter growth inventory stands 
C1, C2 and C6 
C1 last cut in 1990 
C2 last cut in 1988 
C6 last cut in 1975 
 All trees with diameters over 10 
cm in 2011 were measured and 
recorded
Methods Cont. 
 Nail was placed at 1.57 m 
and a 20 cm dowel was 
hung from the nail to 
measure below at DBH 
 Compared findings to pre-treatment 
data from 2011
2014 Basal Area per hectare 
35 
30 
25 
20 
15 
10 
5 
0 
Control 
N 
N + P 
P 
Ca 
Control 
N 
N + P 
P 
Control 
N 
N+P 
P 
Ca 
C1 C2 C6 
Basal Area (m2/hectare) 
Basal Area per Hectare 
YB 
WB 
STM 
SM 
RS 
RO 
RM 
PC 
HEM 
FIR 
BE 
BA 
ASH
10 
7 
13 
15 
19 
5 
10 
4 
2 
21 
23 22 22 12 
1.2 
1 
0.8 
0.6 
0.4 
0.2 
0 
Control N P N+P Ca 
Basal Area Growth (cm2/year) 
White Birch Basal Area Growth 
C1 
C2 
C6 
White Birch Results 
o C1 p=0.21 
o C2 p=0.04 
o C6 p=0.94
Pin Cherry Results 
o C1 p= 0.39 
o C2 p= 0.72 
o C6 p= 0.35 
4 
5 
8 
5 
13 
3 
2 
8 
1 
2 
6 
7 
1 
6 
0.3 
0.25 
0.2 
0.15 
0.1 
0.05 
0 
Control N P N+P Ca 
Basal Area Growth (cm2/year) 
Pin Cherry Basal Area Growth 
C1 
C2 
C6
Red Maple Results 
o C2 p=0.78 
o C6 p=0.24 
12 
17 
12 
31 15 
15 10 
30 
14 
1 
0.9 
0.8 
0.7 
0.6 
0.5 
0.4 
0.3 
0.2 
0.1 
0 
Control N P N+P Ca 
Basal Area Growth (cm2/year) 
Red Maple Basal Area Growth 
C2 
C6
American Beech Results 
o C2 p = 0.12 
o C6 p = 0.56 
1 
8 
11 
3 
12 
16 
17 
18 
18 
0.8 
0.7 
0.6 
0.5 
0.4 
0.3 
0.2 
0.1 
0 
Control N P N+P Ca 
Basal Area Growth (cm2/year) 
American Beech Basal Area Growth 
C2 
C6
Discussion 
 Only white birches in C2 
have shown significant 
growth from fertilizer 
treatments 
Young stands react more 
strongly to N 
White birch is an early 
successional tree 
1.2 
1 
0.8 
0.6 
0.4 
 Small sample sizes in 
some plots make for 
weak comparison tests 0 
0.2 
Control N N+P P 
Basal Area Growth (cm2) 
C2 White Birch Basal Area 
Growth 
p=0.04
Implications of the Study 
 Help us to understand nutrient limitations of 
the Northern forests 
 Addresses factors we may see with an 
increase in N deposition 
 Helps to understand cost benefit of fertilizers 
as an option for silvicultural practices 
 We will be remeasuring in August to see 
growth and measuring additional stands
Acknowledgements and 
Citations 
 Our glorious leader (Adam Wild) 
 Shinjini Goswami 
 Ruth Yanai 
 Fisk M. Ratliff T. Goswami, S and Yanai, R (2014). Synergistic soil 
response to nitrogen plus phosphorus. fertilization in hardwood forests. 
Biogeochemistry DOI 10.1007/s10533-013-9918-1 
 Rastetter, E. B., G. I. Ågren and G. R. Shaver. 1997. Responses of N-limited 
ecosystems to increased CO2: A balanced-nutrition, coupled-element- 
cycles model. Ecological Applications 7:444-460. 
 Vitousek, P. M., and R. W. Howarth. 1991. Nitrogen limitation on land 
and in the sea—How can it occur. Biogeochemistry 13:87–115. 
 Walker, T and Syers, J. 1976. The fate of phosphorus during 
pedogenesis. Geoderma 15(1): 1-19 
 Timothy Fahey 
 Matt Vadeboncoeur 
 Shoestringers

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Shoestring2014 3-tree growth

  • 1. Do fertilized trees grow faster? Looking for a growth response in three MELNHE stands Shoestring REU Eli Egan-Anderson Cornell ‘15
  • 2. Background  Nitrogen (N) is one of the major limiting nutrients for net primary production (NPP) and is required in large amounts by plants (Vitousek and Howarth 1991) It is one of the requirements of photosynthesis
  • 3. Co-limitation  Multiple Element Limitation (MEL) describes plants effort allocation for acquiring different nutrients (Rastetter 1997)  Phosphorus (P) has been found to be a major limiting factor when N is available in large quantities (Walker and Syers 1976)  In N+P plots there are larger amounts of organically available N than in plots where just N was added (Fisk et al 2014)
  • 4. Predictions for the Study  I expect to see positive growth in all stands where fertilizer has been added More growth in N plots of younger stands I expect the most growth will be found in N+P plots at young ages
  • 5. Methods  Diameter growth inventory stands C1, C2 and C6 C1 last cut in 1990 C2 last cut in 1988 C6 last cut in 1975  All trees with diameters over 10 cm in 2011 were measured and recorded
  • 6. Methods Cont.  Nail was placed at 1.57 m and a 20 cm dowel was hung from the nail to measure below at DBH  Compared findings to pre-treatment data from 2011
  • 7. 2014 Basal Area per hectare 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Control N N + P P Ca Control N N + P P Control N N+P P Ca C1 C2 C6 Basal Area (m2/hectare) Basal Area per Hectare YB WB STM SM RS RO RM PC HEM FIR BE BA ASH
  • 8. 10 7 13 15 19 5 10 4 2 21 23 22 22 12 1.2 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0 Control N P N+P Ca Basal Area Growth (cm2/year) White Birch Basal Area Growth C1 C2 C6 White Birch Results o C1 p=0.21 o C2 p=0.04 o C6 p=0.94
  • 9. Pin Cherry Results o C1 p= 0.39 o C2 p= 0.72 o C6 p= 0.35 4 5 8 5 13 3 2 8 1 2 6 7 1 6 0.3 0.25 0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05 0 Control N P N+P Ca Basal Area Growth (cm2/year) Pin Cherry Basal Area Growth C1 C2 C6
  • 10. Red Maple Results o C2 p=0.78 o C6 p=0.24 12 17 12 31 15 15 10 30 14 1 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 Control N P N+P Ca Basal Area Growth (cm2/year) Red Maple Basal Area Growth C2 C6
  • 11. American Beech Results o C2 p = 0.12 o C6 p = 0.56 1 8 11 3 12 16 17 18 18 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 Control N P N+P Ca Basal Area Growth (cm2/year) American Beech Basal Area Growth C2 C6
  • 12. Discussion  Only white birches in C2 have shown significant growth from fertilizer treatments Young stands react more strongly to N White birch is an early successional tree 1.2 1 0.8 0.6 0.4  Small sample sizes in some plots make for weak comparison tests 0 0.2 Control N N+P P Basal Area Growth (cm2) C2 White Birch Basal Area Growth p=0.04
  • 13. Implications of the Study  Help us to understand nutrient limitations of the Northern forests  Addresses factors we may see with an increase in N deposition  Helps to understand cost benefit of fertilizers as an option for silvicultural practices  We will be remeasuring in August to see growth and measuring additional stands
  • 14. Acknowledgements and Citations  Our glorious leader (Adam Wild)  Shinjini Goswami  Ruth Yanai  Fisk M. Ratliff T. Goswami, S and Yanai, R (2014). Synergistic soil response to nitrogen plus phosphorus. fertilization in hardwood forests. Biogeochemistry DOI 10.1007/s10533-013-9918-1  Rastetter, E. B., G. I. Ågren and G. R. Shaver. 1997. Responses of N-limited ecosystems to increased CO2: A balanced-nutrition, coupled-element- cycles model. Ecological Applications 7:444-460.  Vitousek, P. M., and R. W. Howarth. 1991. Nitrogen limitation on land and in the sea—How can it occur. Biogeochemistry 13:87–115.  Walker, T and Syers, J. 1976. The fate of phosphorus during pedogenesis. Geoderma 15(1): 1-19  Timothy Fahey  Matt Vadeboncoeur  Shoestringers

Editor's Notes

  1. Wound response to the nail could affect diameter measurements Maybe Scott Bailey’s method
  2. Most consistently occuring species, C2 doesn’t have a calcium plot
  3. We see a trend of increase over the control. Little numbers are the number of trees
  4. Where we have only one or a few trees we don’t have much power in our stats
  5. No significant trend, though the calcium plot in C6 looks promising, C2 does not have one C1 only had two red maples in the entire plot
  6. May be some trend of fertilizer decreasing beech growth
  7. C1 p = 0.21, C2 p = 0.04