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Forests 2018, 9(10), 641; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9100641 (registering DOI)

Effects of Douglas Fir Stand Age on Soil Chemical Properties, Nutrient Dynamics, and Enzyme Activity: A Case Study in Northern Apennines, Italy

1
Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Agro-alimentari, Alma Mater Studiorum—Università di Bologna, Via Fanin, 40, 40127 Bologna, Italy
2
Dipartimento per la Innovazione nei sistemi Biologici, Agroalimentari e Forestali—Università degli Studi della Tuscia, via San Camillo de Lellis, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 August 2018 / Revised: 27 September 2018 / Accepted: 9 October 2018 / Published: 13 October 2018
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Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine the effect of a Douglas fir plantation along a stand chronosequence in the North Apennine (Italy) on soil carbon and nitrogen stocks, as well as on soil chemical and biochemical properties involved in the nutrients biogeochemical cycle. In 2014, three sites of Douglas fir stands, aged 80, 100, and 120 years, were selected in Vallombrosa forest to study the dynamics of soil nutrients in the ecosystem. Along the Douglas fir chronosequence, general evidence of surface element accumulation was found, including a conspicuous increase of alkaline element with respect to Al, which was attributed to the increase of soil pH along the Douglas fir stand age classes. A general increase of specific enzyme activity (per unit of organic carbon) and functional diversity were observed in the epipedon of the Douglas fir stand over 100 years of age. Moreover, the (chitinase + leucine aminopeptidase) to acid phosphatase ratio progressively increased from 0.15 to 0.31 in the epipedon of the chrononsequence, while the β-glucosidase to (chitinase + leucine aminopeptidase) ratio decreased from 1.45 to 0.83, suggesting nitrogen limitation with respect to carbon. In fact, the soil carbon stock progressively increased along the chronosequence, in the epipedon from 17 to 53 Mg C ha−1 and in the endopedon from 17 to 37 Mg C ha−1. Conversely, the soil nitrogen stock increased from 1.2 to 2.4 Mg N ha−1, but not over the 100-year-old stand class. In conclusion, soil organic matter accumulation became sufficient to define the umbric horizon in the Northern Apennines when the Douglas fir plantation reached the age of 100 years. Over this age class of plants, a limitation of soil nitrogen may occur, affecting enzyme activities regulating the biogeochemical cycle of nutrients. View Full-Text
Keywords: nutrient balance; carbon nitrogen stocks; umbric horizon; microbial activity; functional diversity nutrient balance; carbon nitrogen stocks; umbric horizon; microbial activity; functional diversity
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Vittori Antisari, L.; Papp, R.; Vianello, G.; Marinari, S. Effects of Douglas Fir Stand Age on Soil Chemical Properties, Nutrient Dynamics, and Enzyme Activity: A Case Study in Northern Apennines, Italy. Forests 2018, 9, 641.

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