Sustainable forest management should avoid disturbance and volatilization of the soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) stocks both under present and projected future climate. Earlier studies have shown that thinning of European beech forests induces a strong initial perturbation of the soil C and N cycles in shallow Rendzic Leptosol, which consists of lower soil N retention and strongly enhanced gaseous losses observed over several years. Persistence of these effects could decrease soil organic matter (SOM) levels and associated soil functions such as erosion protection, nutrient retention, and fertility. Therefore, we resampled untreated control and thinned stands a decade after thinning at sites representing both typical present day and projected future climatic conditions for European beech forests. We determined soil organic C and total N stocks, as well as δ13
C and δ15
N as integrators of changes in soil C and N cycles. Thinning did not alter these parameters at any of the sampled sites, indicating that initial effects on soil C and N cycles constitute short-term perturbations. Consequently, thinning may be considered a sustainable beech forest management strategy with regard to the maintenance of soil organic C and total N stocks both under present and future climate.
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