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Relationships between local stand density and local species composition and nutrient content in the topsoil of pure and mixed stands of silver fir Abies alba Mill

Relationships between local stand density and local species composition and nutrient content in the topsoil of pure and mixed stands of silver fir Abies alba Mill

European Journal of Forest Research 129(4): 509-520

This study examined topsoil samples from the humic mineral horizon in four pure silver fir (Abies alba Mill.) and five mixed stands with beech (Fagus sylvatica L.), spruce (Picea abies L.; Karst.) and pine (Pinus sylvestris L.). In every stand, 6-7 sampling locations were chosen using a stratified random scheme that represented a gradient in local stand density and local species composition. One working hypothesis was that stand density and species composition affect the content of nutrients in the mineral humic soil horizon. Specifically, the analysis statistically tested for relationships between general and species-specific local stand density measures (basal area, sum of tree diameters weighted by distance, canopy openness) and the contents of total C, total N (in four stands), base cations (Ca2+, Mg2+, K+, Na+) and Mn2+ (in nine stands). A considerable variation in nutrient concentrations was observed; the coefficients of variation ranged from .21 to .38 for N, from .2 to .94 for the sum of base cations and from .56 to .95 for Mn. However, no clear relationship emerged between local stand density and the concentration of N and base cations; in five stands, manganese showed a negative correlation with local stand density. In the mixed fir-beech stand, significantly higher concentrations of Ca, K and Mn were found in the vicinity of beeches, and species-specific stand density explained up to 15, 29 and 34% of total variation in the content of these elements, respectively. Similar tendencies also appeared in the mixed stands with pine, although the relationships were weak. The results obtained for two fir-spruce stands were ambiguous. In sum, in the stands studied, small canopy gaps and inter-crown openings might not be considered ''nutrient hot spots'', and the admixed species, except for beech, had an insignificant effect on nutrient content in the humic mineral horizon.

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Accession: 036062775

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DOI: 10.1007/s10342-009-0348-5

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