, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 7–34 | Cite as

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

  • Peter M. Vitousek
  • Timothy Fahey
  • Dale W. Johnson
  • Michael J. Swift


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.

Key words

climate soil fertility succession element ratios anions decomposition 


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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff/Dr W. Junk Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter M. Vitousek
    • 1
  • Timothy Fahey
    • 2
  • Dale W. Johnson
    • 3
  • Michael J. Swift
    • 4
  1. 1.Biological SciencesStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  3. 3.Environmental Sciences, Oak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA
  4. 4.Biological SciencesUniversity of ZimbabweMount PleasantZimbabwe

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