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Litterfall, Decomposition, and Nitrogen and Phosphorus Dynamics in a Chronosequence of Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii) Plantations

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Litterfall and decomposition dynamics were examined for 2 years in a slash pine (Pinus elliottii) plantation age sequence (3-36 years old) on a sandy soil in northern Florida. Average total litterfall after canopy closure (for five stands 15-35 years old) was 4,993 kg ha-1. yr-1. Needle litterfall increased with stand age to a peak of 4,453 kg.ha-1.yr-1 at age 15-16 years, then declined in older stands. Nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in needle litterfall were lowest in the fall when the greatest litterfall occurred, and highest in the winter when the least litterfall occurred. Organic matter losses from decomposing needle litter were similar in all stands for the first 18 months; at 24 months a significant stand age effect was noted, with needles in the older stands showing slower mass losses than those in the younger stands. The average decay rate over 24 mo was 15 percent/yr, slow compared with studies from other forest types. Fresh needle litter from all stands was relatively high in lignin and low in P and N compared to litter from other forest types. Needle N content remained relatively constant over 24 months whereas P content increased from 0 to 90 percent over the original amounts, with needles from older stands showing greater P accumulations. Slow decomposition and mineralization rates on these nutrient-poor sites may be attributed to plantation establishment and the concomitant reduction in the frequency of low intensity fires. Forest Sci. 31:463-478.
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Keywords: Pinus elliottii; forest floor; lignin; litter; nitrogen; phosphorus

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Biologist, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611

Publication date: 1985-06-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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