Influence of shifts over an 80-year period in forest composition on soil properties

Abstract

Background and aims

Forest composition in North America has undergone important changes since the European settlement. The effects of such alterations on soil properties remain largely unknown. This study aims to understand the long-term effects of shifts in forest composition on soil properties.

Methods

Using data from 130 plots measured over an eighty-year period, the relationships between stand composition (both current and past), parent material and current soil chemical properties were studied with redundancy analyses.

Results

Results indicated that the parent material remained the dominant factor explaining soil properties, followed by current tree species composition. No legacy effect of past forest composition was found, but shifts in forest composition explained part of the current soil properties. Specifically, an increase in balsam fir was related to higher C/N ratio in the O-horizon, while an increase in maple species was related to higher net nitrification in both the O and B-horizons, and higher extractable P in the B-horizon.

Conclusion

Our results suggest that increasing the maple component at the expense of conifers over several decades may enhance nutrient availability in the O-horizon.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Nature et Technologies and the Groupe Lebel for funding. We also thank Serge Rousseau of the Laurentian Forestry Centre for the help in soil chemical analyzes, and the CEF for its support. We also sincerely thank Alain Caron for his valuable support in the redundancy analysis.

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Correspondence to Vincent Gauthray-Guyénet.

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Responsible Editor: Andrea Schnepf.

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Gauthray-Guyénet, V., Schneider, R., Paré, D. et al. Influence of shifts over an 80-year period in forest composition on soil properties. Plant Soil 433, 111–125 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-018-3819-y

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Keywords

  • Mixed forests
  • Plant-soil relationship
  • Redundancy analysis
  • Shifts in forest composition
  • Soil chemical composition