, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 7-34

Element interactions in forest ecosystems: succession, allometry and input-output budgets

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Element interactions within forests differ from those in other major ecosystems for three major reasons: — a greater allocation of carbon to structural material; — a greater element storage within biomass; and — the diversity of carbon- and nutrient-containing metabolites produced. The most important of these differences is structural material, which can lead to C: element ratios in biomass (as a whole) 100 × greater than those in unicellular organisms. Stand allometry causes the amount of carbon stored and C:element ratios in biomass to change in predictable ways in the course of secondary succession. Such changes affect microbial dynamics and C: element interactions within soils. Bicarbonate, organic acids, nitrate, phosphate, and sulfate are major anions within forest soils: they control leaching of both anions and cations. Biotic interactions of C, N, P, and S during both uptake and mineralization control the potential for production of these anions within forests, and geochemical interactions regulate their mobility and loss.