Tree species and earthworm effects on soil nutrient distribution and turnover in a northeastern United States common garden
Authors: Melvin, April M.; Goodale, Christine L.
Source: Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Volume 43, Number 2, 01 2013 , pp. 180-187(8)
Publisher: NRC Research Press
Abstract:Differences in soil nutrients beneath different tree species are often attributed to the impacts of species-level patterns of nutrient uptake and litter chemistry. However, in naturally established forests it is difficult to isolate tree species' influence on soil development from differences in underlying soil properties that can affect tree species establishment. To discern the impacts of tree species on soil properties, we investigated how Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.), red oak (Quercus rubra L.), and sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marshall) influence the distribution of carbon, nitrogen, and calcium in a 67-year-old common garden. We expected these species would produce foliar litter with contrasting chemistry, resulting in corresponding variation in organic matter (OM) turnover and nutrient accumulation in soils. Instead, we found that forest floor mean residence time correlated negatively with earthworm density and did not correlate with any measurement of litter chemistry. Red oak exhibited the fastest OM turnover and highest earthworm densities and Norway spruce showed the greatest OM accumulation and fewest earthworms. These findings suggest that future changes in earthworm invasion and forest tree species composition may have strong implications for ecosystem nutrient cycling and retention.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2013
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