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A Global Database of Carbon and Nutrient Concentrations of Green and Senesced Leaves
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Revision date: July 17, 2012

Summary:

This data set provides carbon (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg) concentrations in green and senesced leaves. Vegetation characteristics reported include species growth habit, leaf area, mass, and mass loss with senescence. The data were compiled from 86 selected studies in 31 countries, and resulted in approximately 1,000 data points for both green and senesced leaves from woody and non-woody vegetation as described in Vergutz et al (2012). The studies were conducted from 1970-2009. There are two comma-delimited data files with this data set.

study locations 

Figure 1. Global distribution of study locations.

Data Citation:

Cite this data set as follows:

Vergutz, L., S. Manzoni, A. Porporato, R.F. Novais, and R.B. Jackson. 2012. A Global Database of Carbon and Nutrient Concentrations of Green and Senesced Leaves. Data set. Available on-line [http://daac.ornl.gov] from Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A. http://dx.doi.org/10.3334/ORNLDAAC/1106

Table of Contents:

1. Data Set Overview:

This data set provides carbon (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg) concentrations in green and senesced leaves. Vegetation characteristics reported include species growth habit, leaf area, mass, and mass loss with senescence. The data were compiled from 86 selected studies in 31 countries, and resulted in approximately 1,000 data points for both green and senesced leaves from woody and non-woody vegetation as described in Vergutz et al (2012). The studies were conducted from 1970-2009.

2. Data Characteristics:  

Data are presented in two comma-delimited files.

File 1: Leaf_Carbon_Nutrients_data.csv

The file contains leaf carbon and nutrient concentrations along with Köppen Climate Classification (McKnight and Hess, 2000) , vegetation characteristics, and study site information.

Leaf_Carbon_Nutrients_data.csv

ColumnHeadingUnits/formatDescription
1Record_number  An index of all rows
2Ref Reference/Short citation
3Study_number   Study number; index into the study reference data file
4Country   Country
5Region   State
6City   City
7Site_name   Site name or reference
8Lat decimal degreeLatitude: positive=north, negative=south
9Long decimal degreeLongitude: positive=east, negative=west
10Köppen_CC   Köppen climate classification. A-tropical/megathermal, B-dry(arid and semiarid, including desert and steppe climates), C-temperate/mesothermal (including Mediterranean, oceanic, humid subtropical and subpolar oceanic climates, D-continental/microthermal, E-polar
11Vegetation   Major vegetation type
12Species   Study species
13Family   Family
14Growth_habit   Growth Habit
15Senesced_sample_method  Senesced sample collection method (picked from the plant, recently fallen, or litterfall traps)
16MAT degree C Mean annual temperature
17TAP mm Total annual precipitation
18Elevation m Meters above sea level
19C_green_leaf %dry mass Carbon in green leaf
20C_senesced_leaf % dry mass Carbon in senesced leaf
21N_green_leaf % dry mass Nitrogen in green leaf
22N_senesced_leaf% dry mass Nitrogen in senesced leaf
23P_green_leaf% dry mass Phosphorus in green leaf
24P_senesced_leaf% dry mass Phosphorus in senesced leaf
25K_green_leaf% dry mass Potassium in green leaf
26K_senesced_leaf% dry mass Potassium in senesced leaf
27Ca_green_leaf% dry mass Calcium in green leaf
28Ca_senesced_leaf % dry mass Calcium in senesced leaf
29Mg_green_leaf% dry mass Magnesium in green leaf
30Mg_senesced_leaf% dry mass Magnesium in senesced leaf
31Spec_area_green_leafg/m2 Green leaf - specific area
32Spec_area_senesced_leafg/m2 Senesced leaf - specific area
33Area_green_leafcm2 Green leaf area
34Area_senesced_leafcm2 Senesced leaf area
35Mass_green_leaf mg Green leaf dry mass
36Mass_senesced_leafmgSenesced leaf dry mass
37Leaf_loss% Leaf mass loss with senescence
38Leaf_shrink%Leaf area shrinkage with senescence

Example data records:

Record_number,Ref,Study_number,Country,Region,City,Site_name,Lat,Long,Köppen_CC,
Vegetation,Species,Family,Growth_habit,Senesced_sample_method,MAT,TAP,
Elevation,C_green_leaf,C_senesced_leaf,N_green_leaf,N_senesced_leaf,P_green_leaf,P_senesced_leaf,K_green_leaf,K_senesced_leaf,
Ca_green_leaf,Ca_senesced_leaf,Mg_green_leaf,Mg_senesced_leaf,Spec_area_green_leaf,Spec_area_senesced_leaf,Area_green_leaf,
Area_senesced_leaf,Mass_green_leaf,Mass_senesced_leaf,Leaf_loss,Leaf_shrink

785,Allison & Vitousek (2004),1,USA,HI,,,19.7,-155.1,A,Wet tropical forest,Cibotium glaucum,Cibotiaceae,Ferns,
Picked from the plant or recently fallen,23.0,4000,150,1.40,0.75,0.10,0.04,87.7
786,Allison & Vitousek (2004),1,USA,HI,,,19.7,-155.1,A,Wet tropical forest,Dicranopteris linearis,Gleicheniaceae,Ferns,
Picked from the plant or recently fallen,23.0,4000,150,,,0.87,0.53,0.06,0.03,89.3
787,Allison & Vitousek (2004),1,USA,HI,19.7,-155.1,A,Wet tropical forest,Dicranopteris sandwichianum,Gleicheniaceae,Ferns,
Picked from the plant or recently fallen,23.0,4000,150,,,2.15,1.42,0.24,0.08,44.1 …
815,Killingbeck & Whitford (1996),85,USA,NM,Chihuahuan,,32.5,-106.8,B,Perennial desert shrubs,Rhus microphylla,Anacardiaceae,
Tree (deciduous),Litterfall,14.4,272,1200,,,2.30,1.10,
816,Killingbeck & Whitford (1996),85,USA,NM,Chihuahuan,,32.5,-106.8,B,Perennial desert shrubs,Rhus microphylla,Anacardiaceae,
Tree (deciduous),Litterfall,14.4,272,1200,,,2.80,1.60,
817,Killingbeck & Whitford (1996),85,USA,NM,Chihuahuan,,32.5,-106.8,B,Perennial desert shrubs,Rhus microphylla,Anacardiaceae,
Tree (deciduous),Litterfall,14.4,272,1200,,,2.60,1.40

File 2: Study reference file: Leaf_Carbon_Nutrients_studies.csv

Column NamesDescription
Study_numberStudy number; a number assigned to data from a particular paper
RefReference/Short citation
AuthorList of author or authors
TitleName of the article
JournalThe journal that the article was published in
VolumeVolume or usually the year of journal
IssueIssue indicates the sequence of the publication
BPBeginning page
EPEnding page
PubYearYear the article was published
PublisherProducer of publication
NotesMisc. notes

Example data records:

Study_number,Ref,Author,Title,Journal,Volume,Issue,BP,EP,PubYear,Publisher,Notes

1,Allison & Vitousek (2004),"Allison, S.D. and Vitousek, P.M.",Rapid nutrient cycling in leaf litter from invasive plants in Hawai’i,Oecologia,141,4,612,619,2004,Springer,
2,Bertiller et al. (2006),"Bertiller, M.B. and Mazzarino, M.J. and Carrera, A.L. and Diehl, P. and Satti, P. and Gobbi, M. and Sain, C.L.",Leaf strategies and soil N across a regional humidity gradient in Patagonia,Oecologia,148,4,612,624,2006,Springer
3,Blanco et al. (2009),"Blanco, J.A. and Imbert, J.B. and Castillo, F.J.",Thinning affects nutrient resorption and nutrient-use efficiency in two Pinus sylvestris stands in the Pyrenees,Ecological Applications,19,3,682,698,2009,Eco Soc America
 …
83,Zotz (2004),"Zotz, G. and others",The resorption of phosphorus is greater than that of nitrogen in senescing leaves of vascular epiphytes from lowland Panama,Journal of Tropical Ecology,20,6,693,696,2004,Cambridge Univ Press
84,Kazakou et al. (2007),"Kazakou, E. and Garnier, E. and NAVAS, M.L. and Roumet, C. and Collin, C. and Laurent, G.",Components of nutrient residence time and the leaf economics spectrum in species from Mediterranean old-fields differing in successional status,Functional Ecology,21,2,235,245,2007,Wiley Online Library
85,Killingbeck & Whitford (1996),"Killingbeck, K.T. and Whitford, W.G.",High foliar nitrogen in desert shrubs: an important ecosystem trait or defective desert doctrine?,Ecology,,,1728,1737,1996,JSTOR

Site boundaries: (All latitude and longitude are given in decimal degrees)

Site (Region) Westernmost Longitude Easternmost Longitude Northernmost Latitude Southernmost Latitude
Global (31 countries) -159.7 176.9 68.5 -50

Time period:

3. Data Application and Derivation:

Mass data were used in the calculation of the mass loss correction factor (MLCF), which is the ratio of the dry mass of green leaves, to the dry mass of senesced leaves. The MLCF was calculated directly when both dry masses were available and estimated as 1-LML/100 when only the percentage of leaf mass loss (LML) was given (Vergutz et al., 2012).

Nutrient concentration data were applied in calculating nutrient resorption efficiencies. Using this global database of nutrient contents in green and senesced leaves, resorption efficiencies can be computed across plant types and climates, while accounting for mass loss during senescence. Investigators used the data to compare the relationship between mean nutrient resorption efficiency and climate variables (mean annual temperature (MAT) and mean annual precipitation (MAP)). The mean nutrient resorption efficiency for each nutrient for the data set as a whole and for each plant growth type and climate group were separately calculated using a regression analysis (Vergutz et al., 2012).

Vergutz et al., (2012), analyzed 28 ecosystem and biogeochemical models and found wide variation in nutrient resorption efficiency values used in the models. Ecosystem models tend to neglect phosphorus dynamics and do not consider other nutrients, but these nutrient resorption parameters are important for the accuracy of such models. This study has highlighted specific limitations in current resorption parameterizations to help identify improvements for future biogeochemical and land surface models.

4. Quality Assessment:

See original source articles for quality assessment information.

5. Data Acquisition Materials and Methods:

Data were obtained from published studies that reported or provided sufficient information to calculate mean values of carbon and N, P, K, Ca, and Mg nutrient mass per unit dry mass in mature green and senesced leaves and reported nutrient content on a leaf-mass basis (Vergutz et al., 2012). Using Web of Science and Google Scholar search engines, investigators identified studies on nutrient contents in green and senesced leaves with search terms such as “resorption,” nutrient reabsorption,” “nutrient use efficiency,” and “leaf mass loss.”

Data were compiled from 86 studies conducted in 31 countries and resulted in approximately 1,000 data points for both green and senesced leaves from woody and non-woody vegetation. The leaf data were collected from studies taking place from 1970-2009. The data came from major plant types including woody (lianas, shrubs, and trees) and non-woody species, grouped in six growth types: ferns, forbs, gramminoids, conifers, evergreen woody angiosperms, and deciduous woody angiosperms (Vergutz et al., 2012).

Data were compiled on leaf nutrient concentrations from terrestrial plants in every continent except Antarctica, with the majority of the data from Europe and North America. Investigators noted that most of the data for senesced leaves came from newly fallen leaves, with the fewest data from litter-trap studies. Only unfertilized controls from fertilized systems, including annual crops, were included in the data set. Overall, 171 data points were available for carbon concentrations in leaves, with 948 available for nitrogen, 699 for phosphorus, 207 for potassium, 150 for calcium, 115 for magnesium, and 191 for the leaf mass-loss calculations (Vergutz et al., 2012).

Mean annual temperature (MAT) data was obtained for each site and ranged from -8° to 31.6°C, mean annual precipitation (MAP) for each site ranged from 125 to 550 mm/yr, and elevation across sites ranged from 0 to 3520 m above sea level. Based on climatic features, study locations were grouped according to Köppen Climate Classification which organized data into five climatic regions: topical/megathermal, dry, temperate/mesothermal, continental/microthermal, and polar (McKnight and Hess 2000, Kottek et al. 2006).

6. Data Access:

This data is available through the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC).

Data Archive Center:

Contact for Data Center Access Information:
E-mail: uso@daac.ornl.gov
Telephone: +1 (865) 241-3952

7. References:

Kottek, M., J. Grieser, C. Beck, B. Rudolf, and F. Rubel. 2006. World map of the Koppen- Greiger climate classification updated. Meteorologist Zeitschrift 15:259-263.

McKnight, T. L., and D. Hess. 2000. Climate zones and types: the Koppen system. Physical geography: a landscape appreciation. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, USA.

Vergutz, L., Manzoni, S., Porporato, A., Novais, R. F., and Jackson, R. B. 2012. Global resorption efficiencies and concentrations of carbon and nutrients in leaves of terrestrial plants, Ecological Monographs 82:2, 205-220. doi: 10.1890/11-0416.1