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Relationships Among Humus Forms, Forest Floor Nutrient Properties, and Understory Vegetation

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Morphologically characterized humus forms and their associated understory vegetation have been used to infer different modes of decomposition of forest floor materials, but few studies have analyzed relationships among humus forms, forest floor nutrient properties, and understory vegetation. Examination of these relationships was accomplished in this study by a numerical analysis of forest floor and vegetation data that were obtained from 151 cool mesothermal forest ecosystems of southern British Columbia and stratified into seven humus form groups. Four forest floor nutrient properties (pH, C/N ratio, total N, and sum of exchangeable Ca, Mg, and K) and nine diagnostic combinations of species differentiated the groups. pH and mineralizable-N consistently increased, and C/N ratio consistently decreased from Lignomors to Hemimors, Humimors, Mormoders, Leptomoders, and to Vermimulls, indicating the presence of a regional decomposition gradient. Multivariate summaries of the nutrient properties and diagnostic species were highly correlated. A consistent correlation was also found between the nutrient properties and indicator plants of nitrogen-rich soils. For. Sci. 36(3):564-581.

Keywords: Humus form classification; diagnostic species; indicator species; multivariate analysis

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Department of Forest Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1W5

Publication date: September 1, 1990

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.
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