Effects of changed litter inputs on soil labile carbon and nitrogen pools in a eucalyptus-dominated forest of southeast Queensland, Australia
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The quantity and quality of litter inputs to forest soils are likely to be changed as a result of the climate change and human disturbances. However, the effects of changed litter inputs on soil labile carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) pools still remain unclear.
Materials and methods
A 15-month in situ field experiment was conducted within both high and low litter quality site in a eucalyptus-dominated native forest of Queensland, Australia. Three rates of litter inputs were applied, including (i) no litter (NL); (ii) single litter (SL), representing the average condition of the surrounding forest floor; and (iii) double litter (DL). Water-extractable organic C (WEOC) and total N (WETN), hot water-extractable organic C (HWEOC) and total N (HWETN), microbial biomass C (MBC), and N (MBN) were analyzed in the 0–5-cm soil layer seasonally.
Results and discussion
Litter input rates had no significant effects on litter decomposition at both sites (P > 0.05). After 15-month of decomposition, mean litter mass loss was 46.3% and 31.2% at the HQ and LQ sites, respectively. Changed litter quantity had no significant effects on any of the soil labile C and N pools, regardless of litter quality. However, soil labile C and N pools significantly varied with sampling times, and the samples of different sampling times were clearly separated at both sites according to the redundancy analysis (RDA). WEOC peaked in summer, declined in autumn and winter, and increased again in spring, while the concentrations of HWEOC and MBC peaked in the winter period. The seasonal trends of MBN were opposite to the trends of WETN, which might be due to the temporal partitioning of N between plants and microbes.
The findings indicated that soil labile C and N pools in the eucalyptus-dominated forest of subtropical Australia were resistant to a short-term change in aboveground litter inputs. Future research should expand on these findings by keeping observing over a longer time period and considering the influence of changed belowground litter inputs.
KeywordsLitter quality Litter quantity Microbial biomass Seasonality Water-extractable organic C Water-extractable total N
We are grateful to Geoffery Lambert, Yan Xu, Vaeno Vigulu, Ming Zhong, and Yan Zhao for the field assistance, as well as Geoffrey Lambert, Rene Diocares, Radoslaw Bak, and Marijke Heenan for their help in laboratory analyses.
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