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Forests 2017, 8(12), 473; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8120473

Forest Site Classification in the Southern Andean Region of Ecuador: A Case Study of Pine Plantations to Collect a Base of Soil Attributes

1
Institute of Landscape Ecology, University of Münster, Heisenbergstraße 2, 48149 Münster, Germany
2
Carrera de Ingeniería Agronómica, Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias, Universidad de Cuenca, Av. 12 de Octubre y Menendez y Pelayo, 0101168 Cuenca, Ecuador
3
Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, San Cayetano Alto s/n, 1101608 Loja, Ecuador
4
Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Institute of Silviculture, Technische Universität München, 85354 Freising, Germany
5
Department of Soil Science, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Löbdergraben 32, 07743 Jena, Germany
6
Thünen Institute of International Forestry and Forest Economics, 21031 Hamburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 October 2017 / Revised: 17 November 2017 / Accepted: 29 November 2017 / Published: 2 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Sustainable Management)
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Abstract

Forest site classification adapted to the respective site conditions is one prerequisite for sustainable silviculture. This work aims to initiate the forest site classification for pine plantations in the southern Andean region of Ecuador. Forest productivity, estimated by the dominant height of 20-year-old trees (DH20), was related to data from climate, topography, and soil using 23 plots installed in pine plantations in the province of Loja. Forest site productivity was classified as: low (class C: 13.4 m), middle (class B: 16.6 m), and high (Class A: 22.3 m). Strong determinants to differentiate the forest site classes were: the short to medium term available Ca and K stocks (organic layer + mineral soil standardized to a depth of 60 cm), soil acidity, the C:N ratio, clay and sand content, forest floor thickness, altitude, and slope. The lowest forest productivity (Class C) is mainly associated with the lowest short to medium term available K and Ca stocks. Whereas, in site classes with the highest forest productivity, pines could benefit from a more active microbial community releasing N and P, since the soil pH was about 1 unit less acidic. This is supported by the lowest forest floor thickness and the narrowest C:N ratio. View Full-Text
Keywords: exotic forest species; forest floor; forest productivity; Pinus patula; plant available nutrient stocks; tropical Andes exotic forest species; forest floor; forest productivity; Pinus patula; plant available nutrient stocks; tropical Andes
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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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Quichimbo, P.; Jiménez, L.; Veintimilla, D.; Tischer, A.; Günter, S.; Mosandl, R.; Hamer, U. Forest Site Classification in the Southern Andean Region of Ecuador: A Case Study of Pine Plantations to Collect a Base of Soil Attributes. Forests 2017, 8, 473.

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