, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 197-210

First online:

Nitrification potentials in early successional black locust and in mixed hardwood forest stands in the southern Appalachians, USA

  • Florencia MontagniniAffiliated withDepartment of Botany and Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia
  • , Bruce HainesAffiliated withDepartment of Botany and Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia
  • , Lindsay BoringAffiliated withSchool of Forest Resources, University of Georgia
  • , Wayne SwankAffiliated withUS Forest Service, Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station

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Soil nitrogen mineralisation and nitrification potentials, and soil solution chemistry were measured in black locust (Robinia pseudo-acacia L.), in pine-mixed hardwood stands on an early successional watershed (WS6), and in an older growth oak-hickory forest located on an adjacent, mixed hardwood watershed (WS14) at Coweeta Hydrologic laboratory, in the southern Appalachian mountains, U.S.A. Nitrification potentials were higher in black locust and pine-mixed hardwood early successional stands than in the oak-hickory forest of the older growth watershed. Ammonification rates were the main factor controlling nitrification in the early successional stands. There was no evidence of inhibition of nitrification in soils from the older growth oak-hickory forest site.

Within the early successional watershed, black locust sites had net mineralisation and nitrification rates at least twice as high as those in the pine mixed-hardwood stands. Concentrations of exchangeable nitrate in the soil of black locust stands were higher than in pine-mixed hardwoods at 0–15 cm in March and they were also higher at 0–15, 16–30 and 31–45 cm depth in the black locust dominated sites in July. Soil solution nitrate concentrations were higher under black locust than under pine-mixed hardwoods. Areas dominated by the nitrogen fixing black locust had greater nitrogen mineralisation and nitrification rates, resulting in higher potential for leaching losses of nitrate from the soil column in the early successional watershed.

Key words

nitrification nitrate leaching successional N fixation Robinia pseudoacacia