Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 163–169 | Cite as

Organic matter and nutrient dynamics of the litter layer on a forest Rendzina under beech

  • R. G. Joergensen


The decomposition of beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) leaf litter was investigated in a calcareous beech forest using mesh cages containing two layers, fresh leaf litter (O layer), and partly decomposed leaf litter (F layer). C loss was monitored, together with the changes in the contents of total N, hexosamines, ash, Na, K, Mg, Ca, Fe, Mn, Al, Cl, Sulphate, and Phosphate.

In 1-mm mesh cages, which excluded access to the macrofauna, the mean annual loss rates for C were 28% in the O leaf litter and 17% in the F leaf litter, totalling approximately 23% for the two layers. The mean loss rates from the 12-mm mesh cages were 54% in the O leaf litter and 58% in the F leaf litter. Degradation processes and feeding activities caused increased contents of ash, total N, and hexosamines in the O layer of both treatments. This increase was greater for the ash and smaller for N, glucosamine, and galactosamine in the 12-mm mesh cages. The sum of ions (Na+K+Mg+Ca+Fe+Mn+Al+Cl+SO4+PO4) and also the contents of most single ions were not markedly affected, despite the much higher ash content in the O leaf litter of the 12-mm mesh cages. The ash content increased mainly as a consequence of contamination by soil, which increased the contents of Fe and Al in the ash.

Key words

Litter decomposition Litter bag experiment Macrofaunal effects Organic matter turnover Nutrient dynamics Hexosamines 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. G. Joergensen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für BodenwissenschaftenGöttingenGermany

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