European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 129, Issue 3, pp 355–365 | Cite as

Gap size effects on above- and below-ground processes in a silver fir stand

  • Adele Muscolo
  • Maria Sidari
  • Silvio Bagnato
  • Carmelo Mallamaci
  • Roberto Mercurio
Original Paper


Changes in soil properties related to natural regeneration of silver fir (Abies alba, Mill.) in small (185 m2) and medium (410 m2) gaps, in the Calabria Apennines (Southern Italy), were studied 2 years after gap creation. The organic matter within the medium gaps decayed more rapidly than those in the small gaps. Among the microenvironmental variables and soil properties, soil temperature was most strongly positively related to organic matter decomposition rates. Medium gaps had high soil temperature and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) transmittance, and low soil moisture. Within medium gaps, we found a great amount of phenolic compounds and a low content of organic matter and humic acids. These results indicate that in the medium gaps mineralization of organic matter was more important than humification. In contrast, in small gaps, the great amount of organic matter, the high content of humic acid and the values of humification index suggested that in these gaps the humification process of organic matter prevailed. Within small gaps, we observed more silver fir regeneration than medium gaps. Difference in organic matter content, particularly in the amount of phenolic compounds, may account for differences observed in natural regeneration of silver fir between small and medium gaps.


Artificial gaps Humification index Organic matter Phenolic compounds Silver fir Soil properties 



This research was supported by the Università “Mediterranea” di Reggio Calabria―Programmi di Ricerca Scientifica (ex Quota 60%).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adele Muscolo
    • 1
  • Maria Sidari
    • 1
  • Silvio Bagnato
    • 1
  • Carmelo Mallamaci
    • 1
  • Roberto Mercurio
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Forest Systems Management, Faculty of Agriculture“Mediterranea” University of Reggio Calabria Feo di VitoReggio CalabriaItaly

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