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Forests 2017, 8(7), 240; doi:10.3390/f8070240

Dynamics of Organic Matter in Leaf Litter and Topsoil within an Italian Alder (Alnus cordata (Loisel.) Desf.) Ecosystem

Department of Environmental, Biological, and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies, University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Via Vivaldi 43, 81100 Caserta, Italy
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Benoit Lafleur and Timothy A. Martin
Received: 10 May 2017 / Revised: 22 June 2017 / Accepted: 3 July 2017 / Published: 7 July 2017
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Forests are the most important land ecosystems that can mitigate the earth’s ongoing climate change through their ability to sequester CO2 as C stock in forest biomass and soil. Short-rotation deciduous hardwoods or N2-fixing species are ideal candidates for afforestation and reforestation, given that most of the carbon accumulates in the first 30 years. Alders match both of the above-mentioned features, and Italian alder, which is less dependent on riparian habitats and more drought tolerant, is an ideal candidate. Despite this, few studies exist of this tree species and its effect on soil organic matter. In this study, we focused on litter input and leaf litter decomposition dynamics, forest floor leaf litter and topsoil (0–5 cm) organic matter, and patterns of covariation from litter to topsoil. The leaf litter was rich in nitrogen and decomposed quickly (k = 0.002 day−1). There was a large organic carbon stock, which varied in the leaf litter (from 1.7 ± 0.3 Mg/ha in January to 0.4 ± 0.1 Mg/ha in July) and was stable in the topsoil (on average 28.6 ± 1.5 Mg/ha). Stocks for total nitrogen, cellulose, lignin, water and ethanol extractables, and total phenols were also evaluated. In order to investigate patterns of covariation in these stocks from litter to soil, we used two-block partial least squares. The first axis showed that from January to July there was a reduction of total nitrogen, lignin and cellulose in the forest floor leaf litter, while in the topsoil there was a decrease in water extractables and total organic carbon. The second axis showed minor phenomena involving phenols, water and ethanol extractables, and total N. The fast turnover of dissolved organic matter fractions (water and ethanol extractables), linked with cellulose and lignin dynamics, might suggest that within the Italian alder ecosystem there is a reasonably fast formation of stable C compounds in the soil. Thus, Italian alder is an ideal species for afforestation and reforestation, which could be particularly interesting for land-use policies. View Full-Text
Keywords: Italian alder; soil organic matter; forest floor; topsoil; lignin and cellulose; two-block partial least squares Italian alder; soil organic matter; forest floor; topsoil; lignin and cellulose; two-block partial least squares

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Innangi, M.; Danise, T.; d’Alessandro, F.; Curcio, E.; Fioretto, A. Dynamics of Organic Matter in Leaf Litter and Topsoil within an Italian Alder (Alnus cordata (Loisel.) Desf.) Ecosystem. Forests 2017, 8, 240.

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