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Black Alder (Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertn.) on Compacted Skid Trails: A Trade-off between Greenhouse Gas Fluxes and Soil Structure Recovery?

1
Institute of Forest Sciences, University of Freiburg, D-79085 Freiburg, Germany
2
Department of Soil and Environment, Forest Research Institute of Baden-Württemberg, D-79100 Freiburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2019, 10(9), 726; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10090726
Received: 16 July 2019 / Revised: 16 August 2019 / Accepted: 23 August 2019 / Published: 24 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
The compaction of forest soils can deteriorate soil aeration, leading to decreased CH4 uptake and increased N2O efflux. Black alder (Alnus glutinosa) may accelerate soil structure regeneration as it can grow roots under anaerobic soil conditions. However, symbiotic nitrogen fixation by alder can have undesirable side-effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes. In this study, we evaluated the possible trade-off between alder-mediated structure recovery and GHG emissions. We compared two directly adjacent 15-year old beech (Fagus sylvatica) and alder stands (loamy texture, pH 5–6), including old planted skid trails. The last soil trafficking on the skid trails took place in 1999. GHG fluxes were measured over one year. Undisturbed plots with beech had a moderately higher total porosity and were lower in soil moisture and soil organic carbon than undisturbed alder plots. No differences in mineral nitrogen were found. N2O emissions in the undisturbed beech stand were 0.4 kg ha−1 y−1 and 3.1 kg ha−1 y−1 in the undisturbed alder stand. CH4 uptake was 4.0 kg ha−1 y−1 and 1.5 kg ha−1 y−1 under beech and alder, respectively. On the beech planted skid trail, topsoil compaction was still evident by reduced macro porosity and soil aeration; on the alder planted skid trail, soil structure of the uppermost soil layer was completely recovered. Skid trail N2O fluxes under beech were five times higher and CH4 oxidation was 0.6 times lower compared to the adjacent undisturbed beech stand. Under alder, no skid-trail-effects on GHG fluxes were evident. Multiple regression modelling revealed that N2O and CH4 emissions were mainly governed by soil aeration and soil temperature. Compared to beech, alder considerably increased net fluxes of GHG on undisturbed plots. However, for skid trails we suggest that black alder improves soil structure without deterioration of the stand’s greenhouse gas balance, when planted only on the compacted areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil compaction; skid trails; black alder; Alnus glutinosa; greenhouse gas fluxes; soil structure recovery soil compaction; skid trails; black alder; Alnus glutinosa; greenhouse gas fluxes; soil structure recovery
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Warlo, H.; von Wilpert, K.; Lang, F.; Schack-Kirchner, H. Black Alder (Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertn.) on Compacted Skid Trails: A Trade-off between Greenhouse Gas Fluxes and Soil Structure Recovery? Forests 2019, 10, 726.

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