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Forests 2016, 7(8), 181; doi:10.3390/f7080181

C Stocks in Forest Floor and Mineral Soil of Two Mediterranean Beech Forests

1
Department of Biology, Complesso Universitario di Monte Sant’Angelo, Via Cintia, 21, 80126 Napoli, Italy
2
Department of Environmental, Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies, Second University of Naples, Via Vivaldi, 43, 81100 Caserta, Italy
3
Department of Life Sciences, University of Parma, Via Farini, 90, 43124 Parma, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Björn Berg
Received: 19 May 2016 / Revised: 15 August 2016 / Accepted: 16 August 2016 / Published: 22 August 2016
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Abstract

This study focuses on two Mediterranean beech forests located in northern and southern Italy and therefore subjected to different environmental conditions. The research goal was to understand C storage in the forest floor and mineral soil and the major determinants. Relative to the northern forest (NF), the southern forest (SF) was found to produce higher amounts of litterfall (4.3 vs. 2.5 Mg·ha−1) and to store less C in the forest floor (~8 vs. ~12 Mg·ha−1) but more C in the mineral soil (~148 vs. ~72 Mg·ha−1). Newly-shed litter of NF had lower P (0.4 vs. 0.6 mg·g−1) but higher N concentration (13 vs. 10 mg·g−1) than SF. Despite its lower Mn concentration (0.06 vs. 0.18 mg·g−1), SF litter produces a Mn-richer humus (0.32 vs. 0.16 mg·g−1) that is less stable. The data suggest that decomposition in the NF forest floor is limited by the shorter growing season (178 days vs. 238 days) and the higher N concentrations in newly shed litter and forest floor. Differences in C stock in the mineral soil reflect differences in ecosystem productivity and long-term organic-matter accumulation. The vertical gradient of soluble and microbial fractions in the soil profile of SF was consistent with a faster turnover of organic matter in the forest floor and greater C accumulation in mineral soil relative to NF. With reference to regional-scale estimates from Italian National Forest Inventory data, the C stock in the mineral soil and the basal area of Italian beech forests were found to be significantly related, whereas C stock in the forest floor and C stock in the mineral soil were not. View Full-Text
Keywords: litter fall; forest floor; mineral soil; N; P and Mn; GDD (growing degree days); INFI (Italian National Forest Inventory) litter fall; forest floor; mineral soil; N; P and Mn; GDD (growing degree days); INFI (Italian National Forest Inventory)
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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De Marco, A.; Fioretto, A.; Giordano, M.; Innangi, M.; Menta, C.; Papa, S.; Virzo De Santo, A. C Stocks in Forest Floor and Mineral Soil of Two Mediterranean Beech Forests. Forests 2016, 7, 181.

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