The influence of the invasive alien nitrogen-fixing Robinia pseudoacacia L. on soil nitrogen availability in a mixed Mediterranean riparian forest

  • Sílvia PobladorEmail author
  • Anna Lupon
  • Eugènia Martí
  • Francesc Sabater
  • Santiago Sabaté
  • Susana Bernal
Original Paper


Robinia pseudoacacia L. occupies large areas of Mediterranean riparian zones of the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. This study investigates the influence of the invasive alien nitrogen-fixing R. pseudoacacia on leaf litter nitrogen (N) inputs and soil N availability in a mixed riparian forest in NE Spain. We measured annual leaf litter N inputs, decomposition rates, soil N processes, and soil N concentrations at three sections (near-stream, intermediate, and hillslope) across a riparian forested zone. Moreover, we explored changes in soil N availability associated with the presence of R. pseudoacacia by means of an empirical forest floor model. Leaf litter N content was higher for R. pseudoacacia than for the native non-fixing species. Although the contribution of R. pseudoacacia to annual leaf litter N inputs increased from the near-stream to the hillslope section, soil N mineralization, nitrification, and N availability were similar among sections. Simulations suggest that soil N availability was higher at the near-stream than at the hillslope section without the presence of R. pseudoacacia. However, this pattern smoothed down as R. pseudoacacia spread across the riparian forest. Overall, our results suggest that the spreading of R. pseudoacacia across the riparian zone contributed to homogenize soil N availability over time, and highlight that an integrated spatiotemporal view of the invasive process is needed to assess its impact on soil N biogeochemistry.


Black locust Invasive alien tree species Leaf litter inputs Riparian forest soil Nitrogen availability 



We are thankful to Alfons Casalé and Abdellah Bougmar for their invaluable assistance in the field. Special thanks to V. Ramon Vallejo for helpful comments on the final version of the manuscript. Financial support was provided by the Spanish Government through the projects MONTES-Consolider (CSD2008-00040-MONTES), MEDFORESTREAM (CGL2011-30590), CANTERA (RTI2018-094521-B-100), and MEDSOUL (CGL2014-59977-C3-2). Sílvia Poblador was supported by a FPI PhD fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (BES-2012-054572). Anna Lupon was supported by a Kempe Foundation post-doctoral grant (Sweden) and a Juan de la Cierva contract (FJCI-2016-28416). Susana Bernal was supported by a Ramon y Cajal fellowship (RYC 2017-22643). We also thank site cooperators, including Vichy Catalan and the Catalan Water Agency (ACA) for permission to sample at the Font del Regàs catchment. Sílvia Poblador, Santiago Sabaté, and Francesc Sabater are members of the research group FORESTREAM (AGAUR, Catalonia 2017SGR976).

Supplementary material

10342_2019_1226_MOESM1_ESM.docx (24 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 21 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department de Biologia Evolutiva, Ecologia i Ciències AmbientalsUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Integrative Freshwater Ecology GroupCenter for Advanced Studies of Blanes (CEAB-CSIC)BlanesSpain
  3. 3.CREAFCerdanyola del VallèsSpain

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