Concentrations of total organic carbon, dissolved organic nitrogen, TOC/DON ratios, ammonium-nitrogen, nitrate-nitrogen, ammonium-N/nitrate-N ratios, and δ15 values of solution samples from a tropical montane forest in south Ecuador


We tested whether the δ15N values of total dissolved N (TDN), measured directly in solution with a TOC-IRMS, can be used to help elucidate N sources and sinks along the water path in a tropical montane forest in south Ecuador. The forest is located on the east-exposed slope of the eastern cordillera at 1850-2150 m above sea level and thus on the rim of the Amazon basin. We therefore collected rainfall, throughfall, stemflow, litter leachate, mineral soil solutions at the 0.15 and 0.30 m depths, streamflow, and fine litterfall samples in weekly resolution from January 2013 to December 2016. To obtain a sufficient N mass for the N isotope ratio analysis, we composited the weekly samples to quarterly ones. In addition to the ecosystem solutions, we also sampled leaves and roots of ten abundant tree species and horizons (the organic layer horizons Oi, Oe, Oa and the mineral soil horizons A and B) of 21 soil profiles. To assess a possible temporal change in the δ15N values of tree leaves, we analyzed a time series of two tree species (with five individuals per species) from 2008 to 2015. We determined the pH value, total organic C (TOC) and total N concentrations, and the δ15N values of total N in all samples. In the solutions, we additionally measured ammonium-N (NH4-N), nitrate-N (NO3-N), and dissolved organic N concentrations. Because of low N concentrations, δ15N values in rainfall and streamflow could not be measured in all samples. In such cases, we based the quarterly values on selected weekly samples that contained a TDN concentration of at least 1.4 mg/L. The δ15N values of total dissolved nitrogen changed markedly in the ecosystem solutions along the water path from rainfall through the forest to streamflow, which could be related to N sources, sinks, and transformations, while the temporal variation was less pronounced. The δ15N values of the solid phases helped in interpreting these changes. We conclude that the direct measurement of the δ15N values in TDN of ecosystem solutions provides a new straight-forward tool to detect changes in the N cycle of terrestrial ecosystems in high resolution.

Data file containing all original data used in the published paper sources and sinks of N in ecosystem solutions along the water path through a tropical montane forest in Ecuador assessed with δ15N values of total dissolved nitrogen. The original data include properties of ecosystem solutions (rainfall, throughfall, stemflow, litter leachate, soil solution at the 0.15 m and 0.30 m depths, and streamflow), leaf and root samples of selected native plants, and soil horizons of a Lower Montane Forest on the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes in south Ecuador facing to the east, i.e., on the rim of the Amazon basin. For the solutions, the following properties are included: total organic carbon (TOC) concentrations, dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) concentrations, TOC/DON concentration ratios, ammonium-nitrogen (NH4-N) concentrations, nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) concentrations, ammonium-N/nitrate-N concentration ratios, and δ15N values of total dissolved nitrogen. For the solid phases, the following properties are included: pH (only soils), total organic carbon (TC) concentrations, total nitrogen (TN) concentrations, TC/TN concentration ratios, and δ15N values.

Metadata Access
Creator Alvarez, Pablo; Velescu, Andre; Pierick, Kerstin; Homeier, Jürgen ORCID logo; Wilcke, Wolfgang ORCID logo
Publisher PANGAEA
Publication Year 2024
Funding Reference German Research Foundation Crossref Funder ID 227674557 Balancing regulating and provisioning ecosystem services: Comprehensive land-use concepts for effective conservation; German Research Foundation Crossref Funder ID 29937865 FOR 816: Biodiversity and Sustainable Management of a Megadiverse Mountain Ecosystem in Southern Ecuador; German Research Foundation Crossref Funder ID 5467375 FOR 402: Functionality in a Tropical Mountain Forest: Diversity, Dynamic Processes and Utilization Potentials under Ecosystem Perspectives
Rights Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International;
OpenAccess true
Resource Type Dataset
Format text/tab-separated-values
Size 1220 data points
Discipline Earth System Research
Spatial Coverage (-79.084 LON, -3.982 LAT); South Ecuador