, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 232–241 | Cite as

Decomposition of silver maple (Acer saccharinum L.) woody debris in a central illinois bottomland forest

  • Nelson Chueng
  • Sandra Brown


The decomposition rate of silver maple (Acer saccharinum) woody debris was measured in a seasonally flooded mature wetland forest in central Illinois. Small diameter woody debris logs (5-cm diameter × 0.75-m long) of three successive decomposition classes (fresh, intermediate, and rotten) were placed in the floodplain for a period of 1.5 years. By incorporating a chronosequential design that extended the time frame to about 3.5 yr, the decomposition coefficient (k) of sample logs was estimated at 0.089 yr−1 with a half-life of 7.8 years. Mass loss by microbial activity and leaching was estimated at 90%, whereas fragmentation accounted for 10%. Nutrient analysis of the logs indicated that P and K seemed to be released, whereas N, Ca, and Mg were immobilized. Overall, Ca and N were found in significantly higher concentrations than other nutrients (Ca>N>>K>Mg>P). Because small diameter woody debris has limited quantities of nutrients and a long residence time, its role in this mature forested wetland does not seem to be a nutrient reservoir but rather a long-term organic matter storage pool.

Key Words

forested wetlands wood decomposition nutrient composition decomposition rate silver maple Acer saccharinum L. 


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nelson Chueng
    • 1
  • Sandra Brown
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ForestryUniversity of IllinoisUrbana
  2. 2.U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyCorvallis

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