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Sci Total Environ ; 699: 134383, 2020 Jan 10.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31525545


The adverse effects of soil acidification are extensive and may result in hampered ecosystem functioning. Admixture of tree species with nutrient rich litter has been proposed to restore acidified forest soils and improve forest vitality, productivity and resilience. However, it is common belief that litter effects are insufficiently functional for restoration of poorly buffered sandy soils. Therefore we examined the effect of leaf litter on the forest floor, soil chemistry and soil biota in temperate forest stands along a range of sandy soil types in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Specifically, we address: i) Which tree litter properties contribute most to the mitigation of soil acidification effects and ii) Do rich litter species have the potential to improve the belowground nutrient status of poorly buffered, sandy soils? Our analysis using structural equation modelling shows that litter base cation concentration is the decisive trait for the dominating soil buffering mechanism in forests that are heavily influenced by atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition. This is in contrast with studies in which leaf litter quality is summarized by C/N ratio. We suggest that the concept of rich litter is context dependent and should consider Liebig's law of the most limiting: if N is not limiting in the ecosystem, litter C/N becomes of low importance, while base cations (calcium, magnesium, potassium) become determining. We further find that on poorly buffered soils, tree species with rich litter induce fast nutrient cycling, sustain higher earthworm biomass and keep topsoil base saturation above a threshold of 30%. Hence, rich litter can trigger a regime shift to the exchange buffer domain in sandy soils. This highlights that admixing tree species with litter rich in base cations is a promising measure to remediate soil properties on acidified sandy soils that receive, or have received, high inputs of N via deposition.

Fenômenos Ecológicos e Ambientais , Monitoramento Ambiental , Florestas , Animais , Bélgica , Biomassa , Alemanha , Países Baixos , Nitrogênio , Oligoquetos , Folhas de Planta , Solo/química , Árvores