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TitleIs wood pre-treatment essential for tree-ring nitrogen concentration and isotope analysis?
AuthorDoucet, A; Savard, M M; Bégin, C; Smirnoff, A
SourceRapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry vol. 25, 2011 p. 469-475,
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20100336
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
Subjectsgeochemistry; mineralogy; dendrochronology; isotope ratios; isotopes; isotopic studies; vegetation; nitrogen
Illustrationstables; plots
ProgramProgram management and Transition Activities, Environmental Geoscience
AbstractTree-ring nitrogen concentrations and isotope ratios (d15N) are gaining in popularity for environmental research although their use is still debated because of nitrogen mobility in tree stems. Modern studies generally present results on wood that is pre-treated to remove soluble nitrogen compounds and to minimize the impact of radial translocation on tree-ring nitrogen environmental records. However, the necessity to use such pre-treatment has never been fully assessed. Here we compare the nitrogen concentrations and d15N values of two wood preparation protocols applied to beech and red spruce tree rings for the removal of soluble compounds from ring pairs with non pre-treated tree rings. For both tree species, pre-treatment did not minimize the radial patterns of tree-ring nitrogen concentrations and the increasing concentration trends that are coincident with the heartwood-sapwood boundary. Therefore, even if the tree-ring nitrogen concentrations are slightly modified by pre-treatment, these concentrations are considered to reflect internal stem processes rather than environmental conditions in both species. The d15N values were similar for untreated and pre-treated ring pairs, suggesting that wood pre-treatment did not substantially change the d15N values and temporal trends in ring series. In addition, tree-ring d15N series of untreated and pre-treated wood did not show any sign of influence of the heartwood-sapwood boundary in either tree species, indicating that nitrogen translocation did not generate significant isotopic fractionation. We therefore suggest that untreated ring d15N values of beech and red spruce trees can be used for environmental research.