Biogeochemistry

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 213–228 | Cite as

Nitrogen immobilization in leaf litter at two Mediterranean ecosystems of SW Spain

  • Antonio Gallardo
  • José Merino
Article

Abstract

Nitrogen immobilization in relation to the dynamics of lignin and tannins in nine different types of leaf litter was investigated during a 2-yr study at two Mediterranean ecosystems of SW Spain. Net nitrogen immobilization for all the species was higher in a forest than in the more nutrient-poor soil of a shrubland. Absolute amount of lignin increased in both ecosystems in the first 2–4 months whereas tannin rapidly decreased in the same time period. Increases in lignin were significantly correlated to losses of tannins during decomposition. Initial tannin content was the best predictor of the maximum amount of immobilized nitrogen in litter in both ecosystems. Mechanisms that could explain the immobilization of nitrogen in litter are discussed.

Key words

immobilization leaf litter decomposition lignin Mediterranean ecosystem nitrogen tannin 

References

  1. Aber JD & Melillo JM (1980) Litter decomposition: measuring relative contributions of organic matter and nitrogen to forest soils. Can. J. Bot. 58: 416–421Google Scholar
  2. Aber JD & Melillo JM (1982) Nitrogen immobilization in decaying hardwood leaf litter as a function of initial nitrogen and lignin content. Can. J. Bot. 60: 2263–2269Google Scholar
  3. Axelson G & Berg B (1988) Fixation of Ammonia (15N) to Pinus silvestris Needle Litter in Different Stages of Decomposition. Scand. J. Forest Res. 3: 273–279Google Scholar
  4. Basaraba J & Starkey RL (1966) Effect of plant tannins on decomposition of organic substances. Soil Sci. 101: 17–23Google Scholar
  5. Berg B (1988) Dynamics of nitrogen (15N) in decomposing Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) needle litter. Long-term decomposition in a Scots pine forest. VI. Can. J. Bot. 66: 1539–1546Google Scholar
  6. Berg B & Ekbohm G (1983) Nitrogen immobilization in decomposing needle litter at variable carbon:nitrogen ratios. Ecology 64: 63–67Google Scholar
  7. 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. Can. J. Bot. 60: 1310–1319Google Scholar
  8. Berg B & McClaugherty C (1987) Nitrogen release from litter in relation to the disappearance of lignin. Biogeochemistry 4: 219–224Google Scholar
  9. Berg B & McClaugherty C (1989) Nitrogen and phosphorus release from decomposing litter in relation to the disappearance of lignin. Can. J. Bot. 67: 1148–1156Google Scholar
  10. Berg B & Soderstrom B (1979) Fungal biomass and nitrogen in decomposing Scots pine needle litter. Soil Biol. Biochem. 11: 339–341Google Scholar
  11. Berg B & Staff H (1981) Leaching, accumulation and release of nitrogen in decomposing forest litter. Ecol. Bull. 33: 163–178Google Scholar
  12. Berg B & Theander O (1984) The dynamics of some nitrogen fractions in decomposing Scots pine needles. Pedobiologia 27: 161–167Google Scholar
  13. Bocock KL (1963) Changes in the amount of nitrogen in decomposing leaf litter of sessile oak (Quercus petraea). J. Ecology 51: 555–566Google Scholar
  14. Bocock KL (1964) Changes in the amount of dry matter, nitrogen, carbon and energy in decomposing woodland leaf litter in relation to the activities of the soil fauna. J. Ecology 52: 273–284Google Scholar
  15. Bocock, KL & Gilbert O (1957) The disappearance of leaf litter under different woodland conditions. Plant Soil 9: 179–185Google Scholar
  16. Fahey TJ, Yavitt JB, Knight DH & Pearson JA (1985) The nitrogen cycle in lodgepole pine ecosystems. Biogeochemistry 1: 257–275Google Scholar
  17. Fahey TJ, Stevens PA, Hornung M & Rowland P (1991) Decomposition and Nutrient Release from Logging Residue Following Conventional Harvest of Sitka Spruce in North Wales. Forestry 64: 289–301Google Scholar
  18. Fouseki E & Margaris NS (1981) Soil metabolism and decomposition in a Phryganic (East Mediterranean) ecosystem. Oecologia 50: 417–420Google Scholar
  19. Gallardo A (1990) Descomposición de las hojas de especies leñosas en dos ecosistemas del SW peninsular. Dissertation Thesis. University of Seville. Seville, SpainGoogle Scholar
  20. Gallardo A & Pino J (1988) Importancia del medio físico en la descomposición de la hoja de especies arbóreas. Lagascalia 15: 541–547Google Scholar
  21. Glyphis JP & Puttick GM (1988) Phenolics in some southern African mediterranean shrubland plants. Phytochemistry 27: 743–751Google Scholar
  22. Gonzalez Bernaldez F, Garcia Novo F & Ramirez Diaz L (1975) Analyse factorielle de la vegetation des dunes de la reserve Biologique de Doñana (Spagne). II. Analyse dún gradient du milier. Israel J. Bot. 24: 273–282Google Scholar
  23. Gosz JR, Likens GE & Bormann FH (1973) Nutrient release from decomposing leaf and branch litter in the Hubbard Brook forest, New Hampshire. Ecol. Monog. 43: 171–191Google Scholar
  24. He X-T, Stevenson FJ, Mulvaney RL & Kelley KR (1988) Incorporation of newly immobilized15N into stable organic forms in soil. Soil Biol. Biochem. 20: 75–81Google Scholar
  25. Lousier JD & Parkinson D (1978) Chemical element dynamics in decomposing leaf litter. Can. J. Bot. 56: 2795–2812Google Scholar
  26. Melillo JM, Aber JD & Muratore JD (1982) Nitrogen and lignin control of hardwood leaf litter decomposition dynamics. Ecology 63: 621–626Google Scholar
  27. Merino J & Martin Vicente A (1981) Biomass, productivity and succession in the scrub of the Doñana Biological Reserve in Southwest Spain. In: Margaris NS & Mooney HA (Eds) Components of Productivity of Mediterranean Climate Regions (pp. 197–203). Dr. W. Junk Publishers, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  28. McClaugherty CA, Pastor J, Aber JD & Melillo JM (1985) Forest litter decomposition in relation to soil nitrogen dynamics and litter quality. Ecology 66: 266–275Google Scholar
  29. McLean DA & Wein RW (1978) Weight loss and nutrient changes in decomposing litter and forest floor material in New Brunswick forest stands. Can. J. Bot. 56: 2730–2749Google Scholar
  30. Mitchell DT, Coley PGI, Webb S & Allsop N (1986) Litterfall and decomposition processes in the coastal fynbos vegetation, South-Western Cape, South Africa. J. Ecology 71: 977–993Google Scholar
  31. Moore TR (1984) Litter decomposition in a subartic spruce-lichen woodland, Eastern Canada. Ecology 65: 299–308Google Scholar
  32. Palm CA & Sanchez PA (1991) Nitrogen release from the leaves of some tropical legumes as affected by their lignin and polyphenolic contents. Soil Biol. Biochem. 23: 83–88Google Scholar
  33. Paul EA & Clark FE (1989) Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  34. Robertson JB & Van Soest PJ (1981) The detergent system of analysis and its application to human food. In: James WPT & Theander O (Eds) The Analysis of Dietary Fiber in Food. Marcel de Keer, Inc. New York and BaselGoogle Scholar
  35. Schlesinger WH (1977) Carbon balance in terrestrial detritus. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 8: 51–81Google Scholar
  36. Schlesinger WH (1985) Decomposition of chaparral shrub foliage. Ecology 66: 1353–1359Google Scholar
  37. Schlesinger WH (1991) Biogeochemistry. An analysis of global change. Academic Press, Orlando, FloridaGoogle Scholar
  38. Schlesinger WH & Hasey MM (1981) Decomposition of chaparral shrub foliage: losses of organic and inorganic constituents from deciduous and evergreen leaves. Ecology 62: 762–774Google Scholar
  39. Serti M, Okubo T, Hagiwara N, Kim M, Nonaka G-I, Nishioka I & Yamamoto T (1991) Comparative antibacterial activity of Quercitol Gallates. Agric. Biol. Chem. 55: 1893–1894Google Scholar
  40. Singlenton VL & Rosi JA (1965) Colorimetry of total phenolics with phosphomolybdic acid reagents. Amer. J. Enol. Vit. 16: 144–158Google Scholar
  41. Staff H (1980) Release of plant nutrients from decomposing leaf litter in a South Swedish beech forest. Holartic Ecology 3: 129–136Google Scholar
  42. Stevenson FJ (1982) Humus Chemistry. Genesis, composition, reactions. John Wiley and Sons, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  43. Suberkropp K, Godshalk GL & Klug MJ (1976) Changes in the chemical composition of leaves during processing in a woodland stream. Ecology 57: 720–727Google Scholar
  44. Suffling R & Smith DW (1974) Litter decomposition studies using mesh bags: spillage inaccuracies and the effects of repeated artificial drying. Can. J. Bot. 52: 2157–2163Google Scholar
  45. Swift, MJ, Heal OW & Anderson JM (1979) Decomposition in terrestrial ecosystems. Studies in ecology. Volume 5. University of California Press, Berkeley, California, USAGoogle Scholar
  46. Vitousek PM & Howarth RW (1991) Nitrogen limitation on land and in the sea: How can it occur? Biogeochemistry 13: 87–115Google Scholar
  47. Waring RH & Schlesinger WH (1985) Forest Ecosystems. Academic Press. Orlando, FloridaGoogle Scholar
  48. Yavitt JB & Fahey TJ (1986) Litter decay and leaching from the forest floor in Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine) ecosystems. J. Ecology 74: 525–545Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio Gallardo
    • 1
  • José Merino
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de EcologíaUniversidad of SevillaSevillaSpain

Personalised recommendations