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Research Letters in Ecology
Volume 2008, Article ID 260754, 4 pages
Research Letter

Assessment of Nutrient Limitation in Floodplain Forests with Two Different Techniques

1Department of Biology, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY 13346, USA
2Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
3Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, Box 2324, Route 2, Newton, GA 39870, USA

Received 29 November 2007; Accepted 7 April 2008

Academic Editor: Shibu Jose

Copyright © 2008 Matthew A. Neatrour et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We assessed nitrogen and phosphorus limitation in a floodplain forest in southern Georgia in USA using two commonly used methods: nitrogen to phosphorus (N:P) ratios in litterfall and fertilized ingrowth cores. We measured nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations in litterfall to determine N:P mass ratios. We also installed ingrowth cores within each site containing native soil amended with nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), or nitrogen and phosphorus (N + P) fertilizers or without added fertilizer (C). Litter N:P ratios ranged from 16 to 22, suggesting P limitation. However, fertilized ingrowth cores indicated N limitation because fine-root length density was greater in cores fertilized with N or N + P than in those fertilized with P or without added fertilizer. We feel that these two methods of assessing nutrient limitation should be corroborated with fertilization trials prior to use on a wider basis.