Local basal area affects needle litterfall, nutrient concentration, and nutrient release during decomposition in Pinus halepensis Mill. plantations in Spain
Stand density has a positive effect on C, K and Mg concentration in needle litterfall and a negative one on C, N, Ca, K, Mg, P, S, Zn, and Cu release from needle litter. Consequently, forest management practices such as thinning decrease nutrient concentration in needle litterfall and accelerate nutrient release from decomposing needles in Pinus halepensis plantations in Spain.
Silvicultural practices usually include stand density reduction resulting in changes in litterfall and litter decomposition rates. Little is known about the effect on nutrient concentrations in litterfall and nutrient release during decomposition even when this is the main path of nutrient return to soils.
The aims of the study are to evaluate the seasonal pattern of nutrient concentration in litterfall, to study how nutrients are released from needle litterfall during decomposition, and to assess whether local basal area of the stand affects nutrient concentration of litterfall and nutrient release during litter decomposition.
Eight plots were established on each of four stands covering the widest range in local basal area. A littertrap and 15 litterbags were placed on each plot. Periodically, needle litterfall and litter contained in the litterbags were analyzed for C, N, Ca, K, Mg, P, S, Fe, Cu, Mn, and Zn.
Local basal area had a positive effect on C, K, and Mg concentration in needle litterfall and a negative effect on the release of all the nutrients studied but Fe and Mn during the first 2 years of litter decomposition.
Density management of stands has an impact on nutrient cycling, reducing nutrient concentration in needle litterfall, and accelerating nutrient release during decomposition.
KeywordsNutrient cycle Litterbag Littertrap Nutrient immobilization Nutrient release
The authors are grateful to Elisa Mellado and Olga López for their assistance in the field work and Carmen Blanco and Juan Carlos Arranz for their advice in laboratory analysis.
This work was supported by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of the Spanish Government (AGL2011-29701-C02-02 and AGL2014-51964-C2-1-R) and the University of Valladolid and Banco Santander (predoctoral grant to T. Bueis).
Compliance with ethical standards
Statement on data availability
The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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