Effects of topography and forest stand dynamics on soil morphology in three natural Picea abies mountain forests
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Background and aims
Soil evolution in mountain areas is strongly influenced by vegetation and terrain topography. In managed forests, however, relationships of the soil to the environment are modified or masked by human intervention. The objective of our study was to uncover the mutual effects of topographic and forest stand factors on the evolution and variability of soils in natural mountain spruce forests.
Ordination analyses were applied to extensive data on soil morphology, terrain topography and forest stand structure including its disturbance history, collected at three sites in the Carpathians with natural Norway spruce [Picea abies (L.) Karsten] mountain forests, each with areas ≥ 40 ha.
Slope characteristics were the most important factors explaining the main gradients in the soil data. Soil cover and organic horizons were also highly correlated with the forest stand structure and historical disturbances. Moreover, at one site that had experienced a historical stand-replacing disturbance, the more disturbed plots showed a higher incorporation of organic matter and less pronounced eluviation in the upper mineral soil compared to less disturbed areas.
Our results suggest that the long-term shift in pedogenic conditions following a high-severity disturbance may enable the rejuvenation of podzolized soils.
KeywordsSoil formation Pedogenic factors Disturbance dynamics Podzolization Soil rejuvenation Spatial pattern
We are grateful to all the people that participated in the field and in the dendrochronological research, to the local authorities that enabled field data collection, and to our colleagues from the Blue Cat research team for support. Thanks to the two anonymous reviewers whose comments contributed significantly to the quality of the paper, and to Václav Treml and Luděk Šefrna for inspiration.
Compliance with ethical standards
This study was funded by the Czech Science Foundation (the main part was elaborated within the project No. P504/10/1644, and finalized within the project No. 15-14840S). In addition, the work of M. Valtera was supported by the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (institutional support VUKOZ-IP-00027073).
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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