, Volume 72, Issue 4, pp 515-519

Tannin, nitrogen, and cell wall composition of green vs. senescent Douglas-fir foliage

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Tannin, cell wall, and nitrogen composition of green foliage and needle litter of similar-aged Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii Mirb. Franco) from two stands differing in density and crown closure were compared. Trees in the closed-canopy stand had a lower basal area growth rate than those in the open-canopy stand. Stands did not differ in wood basal area/ha or forest floor C/N ratios, but the closed-canopy stand had a significantly larger accumulation of forest floor biomass and significantly higher levels of field-extractable nitrogen and nitrogen mineralization rates. Green foliage from trees in the closed-canopy stand had significantly lower nitrogen, astringency, and lignin contents, but higher cellulose concentration than trees in the open-canopy stand. These trends, inconsistent with the inverse relationship often observed between nitrogen and polyphenol contents of foliage, may result from differences in relative resource availability in the two stands. In contrast to green foliage, needle litter from the two stands had comparable contents of nitrogen, cellulose, and lignin, but astringency was significantly higher in litter from the closed-canopy stand. It is suggested that, within the constraints imposed by site conditions, evergreens may alter the tannin composition of senescing foliage, potentially affecting herbivory and decomposition differently.