Oecologia

, Volume 111, Issue 2, pp 151–159 | Cite as

Foliage litter quality and annual net N mineralization: comparison across North American forest sites

  • Neal A. Scott
  • Dan Binkley

Abstract

The feedback between plant litterfall and nutrient cycling processes plays a major role in the regulation of nutrient availability and net primary production in terrestrial ecosystems. While several studies have examined site-specific feedbacks between litter chemistry and nitrogen (N) availability, little is known about the interaction between climate, litter chemistry, and N availability across different ecosystems. We assembled data from several studies spanning a wide range of vegetation, soils, and climatic regimes to examine the relationship between aboveground litter chemistry and annual net N mineralization. Net N mineralization declined strongly and non-linearly as the litter lignin:N ratio increased in forest ecosystems (r2 = 0.74, P < 0.01). Net N mineralization decreased linearly as litter lignin concentration increased, but the relationship was significant (r2 = 0.63, P < 0.01) only for tree species. Litterfall quantity, N concentration, and N content correlated poorly with net N mineralization across this range of sites (r2 < 0.03, P = 0.17–0.26). The relationship between the litter lignin:N ratio and net N mineralization from forest floor and mineral soil was similar. The litter lignin:N ratio explained more of the variation in net N mineralization than climatic factors over a wide range of forest age classes, suggesting that litter quality (lignin:N ratio) may exert more than a proximal control over net N mineralization by influencing soil organic matter quality throughout the soil profile independent of climate.

Key words Litter quality Lignin:N ratio Nitrogen mineralization Climate Forests and grasslands 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neal A. Scott
    • 1
  • Dan Binkley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forest Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, U.S. Forest Service, Fort Collins, CO, USAUS

Personalised recommendations