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Data and code associated with: Wong, MY, et al. (2024). Trees adjust nutrient acquisition strategies across tropical forest secondary succession. New Phytol.

Version 3 2024-05-16, 13:42
Version 2 2024-04-22, 18:11
Version 1 2024-04-22, 18:01
posted on 2024-05-16, 13:42 authored by Michelle WongMichelle Wong, Nina Wurzburger, Jefferson HallJefferson Hall, S. Joe Wright, Wenguang Tang, Lars O. Hedin, Kristin SaltonstallKristin Saltonstall, Michiel van Breugel, Sarah A. Batterman

Nutrient limitation may constrain the ability of recovering and mature tropical forests to serve as a carbon sink. However, it is unclear to what extent trees can utilize nutrient acquisition strategies – especially root phosphatase enzymes and mycorrhizal symbioses – to overcome low nutrient availability during succession. We use a large-scale, full factorial nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization experiment of 76 replicate plots along a tropical forest secondary succession gradient in Panama to test the extent to which trees adjust nutrient acquisition strategies. We show that tropical forests are highly dynamic in adjusting strategies – particularly root phosphatase – during forest recovery, reflecting a shift from strong nitrogen to weak phosphorus limitation over succession. We contextualize these results within a broader meta-analysis, where tree strategies also dynamically respond to nutrients and forest age. Together, our findings indicate that high functional diversity characterizes nutrient strategies in tropical forests, likely critical for alleviating nutrient limitation on the carbon sink.

File list:

AS_roots_README_04222024.pdf. Contains data dictionaries for data tables, project abstract, creators, full list of funders, methodology, citation list and additional project documentation.

AS_code.R. Commented code for data transformation, statistical analyses, figures, and meta-analysis.

AS_fertilization_root_data.csv. Data for mycorrhizal colonization and root phosphatase activity in response to nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization across four forest age classes in Panama.

AS_Plasticity_phosphatase_mycorrhizae.csv. Data for meta-analysis of root phosphatase and mycorrhizal colonization responses to nitrogen and phosphorus additions in tropical forests.

AS_secondary_forest_mycorrhizal_colonization_literature_review.csv. Data for literature review on mycorrhizal colonization rates across secondary succession in tropical forests.


BIOmes of Brasil - Resilience, rEcovery, and Diversity: BIO-RED

Natural Environment Research Council

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British Council #275556724

Facilitating the tropical forest carbon sink: The evolution and function of symbiotic N2 fixation

Natural Environment Research Council

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Heising-Simons Foundation

Carbon Mitigation Initiative; bp

Princeton University

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

University of Leeds

Leverhulme Trust

Stanley Motta

Frank and Kristin Levinson

Hoch Family

U Trust


Geographic description

Agua Salud Project (9°13’59” N, 79°41’59” W) Gigante Peninsula (9°06’31” N, 79°50’37”W)

Time period

Begin date: November 2019 End date: September 2023


See AS_roots_README_04182024.pdf for full methodology.

Location of field samples or specimens

Samples were destructively analyzed. Some duplicate root samples are stored in the Batterman Lab at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies


RStudio. DataThief III.

Data Sharing Statement

The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies furnishes code and data under the following conditions: The code or data have received quality assurance scrutiny, and, although we are confident of their accuracy, Cary Institute will not be held liable for errors in the code or data. Code and data are subject to change resulting from updates in data screening or models used. To cite code or data, click on the Cite button on this page.

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