Plant and Soil

, Volume 229, Issue 1, pp 105–116

Litter decomposition and nitrogen mineralization of soils in subtropical plantation forests of southern China, with special attention to comparisons between legumes and non-legumes


  • Zhi-an Li
    • South China Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Shao-lin Peng
    • Guangzhou BranchChinese Academy of Sciences
  • Debbie J. Rae
    • Centre for Horticulture and Plant SciencesUniversity of Western Sydney
  • Guo-yi Zhou
    • South China Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences

DOI: 10.1023/A:1004832013143

Cite this article as:
Li, Z., Peng, S., Rae, D.J. et al. Plant and Soil (2001) 229: 105. doi:10.1023/A:1004832013143


Litter decomposition and nitrogen mineralization were investigated in subtropical plantation forests in southern China. The CO2 –C release from incubated litter and the forest floor of Acacia mangium, Acacia auriculaeformis, Eucalyptus citriodora, Pinus elliotii and Schima superba stands were used to estimate relative rates of litter decomposition. Decomposition was not positively correlated with litter nitrogen. E. citridora litter decomposed most rapidly and A. mangium litter most slowly, both with and without the addition of exotic nitrogen. Aerobic incubation and intact soil core incubation at 30 °C over a period of 30 days were used to assess nitrogen mineralization of six forest soils. Although there were differences in results obtained using the two methods, patterns between legume and non-legume species were the same regardless of method. All soils had pH values below 4.5, but this did not prevent nitrification. The dominant form of mineral nitrogen was nitrate for legume species and ammonium for non-legume species. The nitrogen mineralization potential was highest for soils in which legumes were growing.

Acacia auriculaeformisAcacia mangiumCO2 releaseEucalyptus citriodoraexotic nitrogenlitter decompositionnitrogen mineralizationPinus elliotiiSchima superba

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001