Litter quality, land-use history, and nitrogen deposition effects on topsoil conditions across European temperate deciduous forests

  • Topsoil conditions in temperate forests are influenced by several soil-forming factors, such as canopy composition (e.g. through litter quality), land-use history, atmospheric deposition, and the parent material. Many studies have evaluated the effects of single factors on physicochemical topsoil conditions, but few have assessed the simultaneous effects of multiple drivers. Here, we evaluate the combined effects of litter quality, land-use history (past land cover as well as past forest management), and atmospheric deposition on several physicochemical topsoil conditions of European temperate deciduous forest soils: bulk density, proportion of exchangeable base cations, carbon/nitrogen-ratio (C/N), litter mass, bio-available and total phosphorus, pH(KCI)and soil organic matter. We collected mineral soil and litter layer samples, and measured site characteristics for 190 20 x 20 m European mixed forest plots across gradients of litter quality (derived from the canopy species composition) and atmospheric deposition, and for differentTopsoil conditions in temperate forests are influenced by several soil-forming factors, such as canopy composition (e.g. through litter quality), land-use history, atmospheric deposition, and the parent material. Many studies have evaluated the effects of single factors on physicochemical topsoil conditions, but few have assessed the simultaneous effects of multiple drivers. Here, we evaluate the combined effects of litter quality, land-use history (past land cover as well as past forest management), and atmospheric deposition on several physicochemical topsoil conditions of European temperate deciduous forest soils: bulk density, proportion of exchangeable base cations, carbon/nitrogen-ratio (C/N), litter mass, bio-available and total phosphorus, pH(KCI)and soil organic matter. We collected mineral soil and litter layer samples, and measured site characteristics for 190 20 x 20 m European mixed forest plots across gradients of litter quality (derived from the canopy species composition) and atmospheric deposition, and for different categories of past land cover and past forest management. We accounted for the effects of parent material on topsoil conditions by clustering our plots into three soil type groups based on texture and carbonate concentration. We found that litter quality was a stronger driver of topsoil conditions compared to land-use history or atmospheric deposition, while the soil type also affected several topsoil conditions here. Plots with higher litter quality had soils with a higher proportion of exchangeable base cations, and total phosphorus, and lower C/N-ratios and litter mass. Furthermore, the observed litter quality effects on the topsoil were independent from the regional nitrogen deposition or the soil type, although the soil type likely (co)-determined canopy composition and thus litter quality to some extent in the investigated plots. Litter quality effects on topsoil phosphorus concentrations did interact with past land cover, highlighting the need to consider land-use history when evaluating canopy effects on soil conditions. We conclude that forest managers can use the canopy composition as an important tool for influencing topsoil conditions, although soil type remains an important factor to consider.show moreshow less

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Author details:Sybryn L. Maes, Haben BlondeelORCiD, Michael P. Perring, Leen Depauw, Guntis Brumelis, Jörg Brunet, Guillaume Decocq, Jan den Ouden, Werner HaerdtleORCiDGND, Radim Hedl, Thilo HeinkenORCiD, Steffi HeinrichsGND, Bogdan JaroszewiczORCiD, Keith J. KirbyGND, Martin KopeckyORCiDGND, Frantisek MalisORCiD, Monika Wulf, Kris Verheyen
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2018.10.056
ISSN:0378-1127
ISSN:1872-7042
Title of parent work (English):Forest ecology and management
Publisher:Elsevier
Place of publishing:Amsterdam
Publication type:Article
Language:English
Year of first publication:2019
Completion year:2019
Release date:2021/04/07
Tag:Ancient forest; Base cations; Coppice; Decomposition; High forest; Nutrient cycling; Phosphorus; Post-agricultural forest; Soil fertility; pH
Volume:433
Page number:14
First page:405
Last Page:418
Funding institution:European Research Council [ERC Consolidator grant]European Research Council (ERC) [614839]; Grant Agency of the Czech RepublicGrant Agency of the Czech Republic [17-09283S]; Czech Academy of SciencesCzech Academy of Sciences [RVO 67985939]; [VEGA 1/0639/17]; [APVV-15-0176]
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Biochemie und Biologie
DDC classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie