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Title Retrieving nitrogen isotopic signatures from fresh leaf reflectance spectra: disentangling d15N from biochemical and structural leaf properties
Type Publication

Linking remote sensing methodology to stable isotope ecology provides a promising approach to study ecological processes from small to large spatial scales. Here, we show that δ15N can be detected in fresh leaf reflectance spectra of field samples along a spatial gradient of increasing nitrogen input from an N2-fixing invasive species. However, in field data it is unclear whether δ15N directly influences leaf reflectance spectra or if the relationship is based on covariation between δ15N and foliar nitrogen content or other leaf properties. Using a 15N-labeling approach, we experimentally varied δ15N independently of any other leaf properties in three plant species across different leaf developmental and physiological states. δ15N could successfully be modeled by means of partial least squares (PLSs) regressions, using leaf reflectance spectra as predictor variables. PLS models explained 53–73% of the variation in δ15N within species. Several wavelength regions important for predicting δ15N were consistent across species and could furthermore be related to known absorption features of N-containing molecular bonds. By eliminating covariation with other leaf properties as an explanation for the relationship between reflectance and δ15N, our results demonstrate that 15N itself has an inherent effect on leaf reflectance spectra. Thus, our study substantiates the use of spectroscopic measurements to retrieve isotopic signatures for ecological studies and encourages future development. Furthermore, our results highlight the great potential of optical measurements for up-scaling isotope ecology to larger spatial scales.

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HELLMANN Christine
WERNER Christian
V. Lauströer
Journal Frontiers in Plant Science
Volume 6
Pages 307
Year 2015
Times cited None
Institute country Germany
Type of science
  • Biology and Ecology (includes animals and vegetation)
Field of science
  • Biosphere
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