Litter mass loss rates in pine forests of Europe and Eastern United States: some relationships with climate and litter quality
- 989 Downloads
The purpose of this study was to relate regional variation in litter mass-loss rates (first year) in pine forests to climate across a large, continental-scale area. The variation in mass-loss rate was analyzed using 39 experimental sites spanning climatic regions from the subarctic to subtropical and Mediterranean: the latitudinal gradient ranged from 31 °N to 70 °N and may represent the the largest geographical area that has ever been sampled and observed for the purpose of studying biogeochemical processes. Because of unified site design and uniform laboratory procedures, data from all sites were directly comparable and permitted a determination of the relative influence of climateversus substrate quality viewed from the perspective of broad regional scales.
Simple correlation applied to the entire data set indicated that annual actual evapotranspiration (AET) should be the leading climatic constraint on mass-loss rates (Radj 2 = 0.496). The combination of AET, average July temp. and average annual temp. could explain about 70% of the sites' variability on litter mass-loss. In an analysis of 23 Scots pine sites north of the Alps and Carpatians AET alone could account for about 65% of the variation and the addition of a substrate-quality variable was sufficiently significant to be used in a model.
The influence of litter quality was introduced into a model, using data from 11 sites at which litter of different quality had been incubated. These sites are found in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland. At any one site most ( ≫ 90%) of the variation in mass-loss rates could be explained by one of the litter-quality variables giving concentration of nitrogen, phosphorus or water solubles. However, even when these models included nitrogen or phosphorus even small changes in potential evapotranspiration resulted in large changes in early-phase decay rates.
Further regional subdivision of the data set, resulted in a range of strength in the relationship between loss rate and climatic variables, from very weak in Central Europe to strong for the Scandinavian and Atlantic coast sites (Radj 2 = 0.912; AETversus litter mass loss). Much of the variation in observed loss rates could be related to continentalversus marine/Atlantic influences. Inland locations had mass-loss rates lower than should be expected on the basis of for example AET alone. Attempts to include seasonality variables were not successful. It is clear that either unknown errors and biases, or, unknown variables are causing these regional differences in response to climatic variables. Nevertheless these results show the powerful influence of climate as a control of the broad-scale geography of mass-loss rates and substrate quality at the stand level.
Some of these relationships between mass-loss rate and climatic variables are among the highest ever reported, probably because of the care taken to select uniform sites and experimental methods. This suggest that superior, base line maps of predicted mass-loss rates could be produced using climatic data. These models should be useful to predict the changing equilibrium litter dynamics resulting from climatic change.
Key wordsdecomposition litter mass loss climate climate change pine actual evapotranspiration
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Aber JD & Melillo JM (1982) Nitrogen immoblization in decaying hard-wood leaf litter as a function of initial nitrogen and lignin content. Canadian Journal of Botany 60: 2263–2269Google Scholar
- Axelsson B & Br»kenhielm S (1980) Investigation sites of the Swedish Coniferous Forest Project. Biological and physiographical features. Ecological Bulletins (Stockholm) 32: 25–64Google Scholar
- B»»th E, Berg B, Lohm U, Lundgren B, Lundkvist H, Rosswall T, Söderström B & Wiren A (1980) Effects of experimental acidification and liming on soil organisms and decomposition in a Scots pine forest. Pedobiologia 20: 85–100Google Scholar
- Berg B (1990) Measurements of litter decomposition rates in two forest research plots with monocultures of Norway spruce (Degeberga) and Scots pine (Granö). Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Department of Ecology and Environmental Research. Soil Organic Matter Turnover, Report, 16 ppGoogle Scholar
- Berg B (1986) Nutrient release from litter and humus in coniferous forest soils — a mini review. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 1: 359–370Google Scholar
- Berg B & Staaf H (1980) Decomposition rate and chemical changes of Scots pine needle litter. II Influence of chemical composition. Ecological Bulletins (Stockholm) 32: 363–372Google Scholar
- Berg B, Staaf H & Wessén B (1987) Decomposition and nutrient release from nitrogen — fertilized Scot pine stands. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 2: 399–415Google Scholar
- Berg B & Lundmark JE (1987) Decomposition of needle litter in lodgepole pine and Scots pine monocultures — a comparison. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 2: 3–12Google Scholar
- Berg B, Hannus K, Popoff T & Theander O (1982) Changes in organic chemical components of needle litter during decomposition. Long-term decomposition in a Scots pine forest I. Canadian Journal of Botany 60: 1310–1319Google Scholar
- Berg B, Booltink HGW, Breymeyer A, Ewertsson A, Gallardo A, Holm B, Johansson MB, Koivuoja S, Meentemeyer V, Nyman P, Olofsson J, Pettersson A, Reurslag A, Staaf H, Staaf I & Uba L (1991) Data on needle litter decomposition and soil climate as well as site characteristics. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Department of Ecology and Environmental Research. Report No. 41Google Scholar
- Berg B, Berg M, Bottner P, Box E, Breymeyer A, Calvo de Anta R, Couteaux M, Gallardo A, Escudero A, Kratz W, Maderia M, Meentemeyer V, Muñoz F, Piussi P, Remacle J & Virzo De Santo A (in press) Litter mass loss in pine forests of Europe: relationships with climate and litter quality. In: Breymeyer A (Ed) Proceedings from Scope Seminar. Geography of Carbon Budget Processes in Terrestrial Ecosystems. Szymbark, Aug. 17–23, 1991Google Scholar
- Bethge PO, R»deström R & Theander O (1971) Kvantitativ kolhydratbestämning — en detaljstudie. Communication from Swedish Forest Production Research Lab. 63B. S-114 86 Stockholm. (In Swedish)Google Scholar
- Dyer ML (1986) A model of organic decomposition rates based on climate and litter properties. M.A. Thesis, University of Georgia, Athens, GAGoogle Scholar
- Dyer ML, Meentemeyer V & Berg B (1990) Apparent controls of mass loss rate of leaf litter on a regional scale. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 5: 311–323Google Scholar
- Fogel R & Cromack K (1977) Effects of habitat and substrate quality on Douglas fir litter decomposition in western Oregon. Canadian Journal of Botany 55: 1632–1640Google Scholar
- Johansson MB (1986) Chemical composition and decomposition of leaf litter from forest trees in Sweden with special reference to methodological aspects and site properties. Reports in Forest Ecology and Forest Soils, No. 56. Department of Forest Soils. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, UppsalaGoogle Scholar
- Lousier JD & Parkinson D (1976) Litter decomposition in a cool temperature deciduous forest. Canadian Journal of Botany 54: 419–436Google Scholar
- McClaugherty C & Berg B (1987) Cellulose, lignin and nitrogen levels as rate regulating factors in late stages of forest litter decomposition. Pedobiologia 30: 101–112Google Scholar
- Rogers SN (1986) A comparison of in-situversus litterbag estimates of litter decomposition rates and their relationships with climate. M.A. Thesis, University of Georgia, Athens, GAGoogle Scholar
- Sharpe DM & Prowse CW (1983) WATERBUD: Water budget concepts and applications. Environmental Simulations Laboratory, Carbondale, IL, USAGoogle Scholar
- Tamm CO, Nilsson Å & Wiklander G (1974) The optimum nutrition experiment Lisselbo. A brief description of an experiment in a young stand of Scots pine (Pinus silvestris L.). Departments of Forest Ecology and Forest Soils, Royal College of Forestry, Stockholm, Research Notes 18, 25 ppGoogle Scholar
- Thornthwaite CW & Mather JR (1957) Instructions and tables for computing potential evapotranspiration and the water balance. Publications in Climatology 10: 185–311Google Scholar
- Willmott CJ, Mather JR & Rowe CM (1981a) Average monthly and annual surface air temperature and precipitation data for the world. Part I The eastern hemisphere. Publications in Climatology, Vol. 34, No. 1Google Scholar
- Willmott CJ, Mather JR & Rowe CM (1981b) Average monthly and annual surface air temperature and precipitation data for the world. Part II The western hemisphere. Publications in Climatology, Vol. 34, No. 2Google Scholar
- Virzo De Santo A, Berg B, Rutigliano FA, Alfani A & Fioretto A (in press) Factors regulating early-stage decomposition of needle litter in five different coniferous forests. Soil Biology and BiochemistryGoogle Scholar