Effects of beech and ash on small-scale variation of soil acidity and nutrient stocks in a mixed deciduous forest

Holzwarth, Frederic Martin; Daenner, Maximilian; Flessa, Heinz GND

Trees interact in a complexmannerwith soils: they recycle and redistribute nutrients viamany ecological pathways. Nutrient distribution via leaf litter is assumed to be of major importance. Beech is commonly known to have lower nutrient concentrations in its litter than other hardwood tree species occurring in Central Europe. We examined the influences of distribution of beech (Fagus sylvatica L.), ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.), lime (Tilia cordata Mill. and T. platyphyllos Scop.), maple (Acer spp. L.), and clay content on small-scale variability of pH and exchangeable Ca and Mgstocks in the mineral soil and of organic-C stocks in the forest floor in a near-natural, mature mixed deciduous forest in Central Germany. The soil is a Luvisol developed in loess over limestone. We found a positive effect of the proportion of beech on the organic-C stocks in the forest floor and a negative effect on soil pH and exchangeable Ca and Mg in the upper mineral soil (0 to 10 cm). The proportion of ash had a similar effect in the opposite direction, the other species did not show any such effect. The ecological impact of beech and ash on soil properties at a sample point was explained best by their respective proportion within a radius of 9 to 11 m. The proportion of the species based on tree volume within this radius was the best proxy to explain species effects. The clay content had a significant positive influence on soil pH and exchangeable Ca and Mg with similar effect sizes. Our results indicate that beech, in comparison to other co-occurring deciduous tree species, mainly ash, increased acidification at our site. This effect occurred on a small spatial scale and was probably driven by species-related differences in nutrient cycling via leaf litter. The distribution of beech and ash resulted not only in aboveground diversity of stand structures but also induced a distinct belowground diversity of the soil habitat.

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Holzwarth, Frederic Martin / Daenner, Maximilian / Flessa, Heinz: Effects of beech and ash on small-scale variation of soil acidity and nutrient stocks in a mixed deciduous forest. 2011.

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