Phosphorus supply and cycling at long-term forest monitoring sites in Germany

  • Katrin Ilg
  • Nicole Wellbrock
  • Wolfgang Lux
Original Paper


In this study, the supply and input–output balances of phosphorus (P) were investigated for a 10-year-period at 85 long-term monitoring sites in German forest ecosystems under the European Level II programme. These sites encompass 23 European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) stands, 9 oak stands comprised of common oak (Quercus robur L.) and/or sessile oak (Quercus petraea Liebl.), 20 Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and 33 Norway spruce (Picea abies H.Karst.) stands. We quantified P concentrations in needles and leaves, P inputs from the atmosphere, P outputs through leaching and harvesting, and total P in the soil and humus layers. The P concentrations in European beech leaves from two sites (>1 mg P g−1 dry weight), and in Norway spruce needles from four sites (>1.2 mg P g−1 dry weight), were deficient over several years. In contrast, the oak and Scots pine sites were well supplied with P. When P removal through harvesting was disregarded, P balances were positive or stable (median 0.21 kg P ha−1 a−1). With harvesting, balances were mostly negative (median −0.35 kg P ha−1 a−1), with long-term P removal from the forest ecosystems.


Input–output balance Phosphorus Forest ecosystems Nutrient supply N:P ratio Level II sites 



Thanks to Petra Dühnelt whose comments improved this paper substantially. This research was supported by the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Forest Ecology and Forest InventoryJohann Heinrich von Thünen Institute (Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries)EberswaldeGermany

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