Coarse woody debris modifies surface soils of degraded temperate eucalypt woodlands
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Reintroductions of coarse woody debris (CWD) to Australia’s temperate eucalypt woodlands have been proposed to address the paucity of CWD in these landscapes. This study aimed to quantify the effects of CWD on surface soils.
Values of C, N, C:N, P, NO3 −, NH4 +, pH and electrical conductivity (EC) were measured adjacent to, and at reference distances from CWD. Soils were measured at depths of 0–1 cm, 1–3 cm and 3–5 cm for 12 individual CWD samples of varying decay classes and diameters. A linear mixed model was used to test the effects of the presence of CWD, soil depth and CWD decay class and diameter.
Significantly larger values for C, N, C:N, P, NO3 −, EC, and significantly smaller values for pH were found adjacent to CWD. The greatest impact of CWD was on the upper most surface soil. CWD decay class and diameter had little influence on the measured soil characteristics.
This is the first quantitative determination of the effects of eucalypt CWD on woodland soils in Australia. The effect of added CWD is rapid, occurring after just 2 years. The results suggest that the effects are due to the structural properties of CWD.
KeywordsAustralian temperate woodlands Woodland restoration Soil nutrients
Thanks to the following people: Dr Ben Macdonald for manuscript review, Ross Cunningham for statistical support, David Tongway who advised on soil sampling methods, Dr Matthew Brookhouse for field assistance, Dr Adrian Manning for site access, Professor Stephen Dovers for additional financial support, Tom Nicholson for sampling equipment, Lorna Fitzsimons and Dr Vanessa Wong who assisted in laboratory analysis.
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