Special Issue "Plant-Soil Feedbacks on Carbon and Nutrient Cycling in Forest Ecosystems"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Gerrit Angst
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
SoWa Research Infrastructure & Institute of Soil Biology, CAS Na Sádkách 7, 37005, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
Interests: carbon sequestration in soil; biomarkers; earthworm effects on soil C stability; effect of plant tissue chemistry on the build-up of mineral-protected soil C
Prof. Dr. Eva Kaštovská
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Ecosystem Biology, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Branišovská 1645/31A, České Budějovice 2, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic
Interests: Plant-soil interactions; plant exudation; C flow and its transformation in soil; microbial N transformations; Fertilization effect on ecosystem functioning; Focus mainly on grasslands and wetlands

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the face of climate change and rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, forest ecosystems and soils are becoming important potential carbon (C) sinks. This potential varies with tree species, which may substantially impact soil C pools and nutrient cycles. Yet, little information is available on how altered tree species composition in the wake of climate change will alter these nutrient cycles and the stability of soil C, with unknown consequences for ecosystem functioning. Specifically, a higher frequency of droughts or fires in forests previously unaffected by such extreme events may unpredictably alter plant–soil feedbacks in such ecosystems. The interactions of trees, their traits, and C and nutrient cycling in forest soils need to be better understood. We encourage the submission of studies from all fields, including experimental studies, monitoring approaches, and modeling attempts, to this Special Issue, promoting knowledge and adaptation strategies for the preservation, management, and future development of forest ecosystems.

Dr. Gerrit Angst
Prof. Dr. Eva Kaštovská
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Carbon sequestration
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Climate change
  • Tree species traits
  • Ecosystem services
  • Forest fires, regeneration
  • Forest management

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Article
Compost and PGP-Based Biostimulant as Alternative to Peat and NPK Fertilization in Chestnut (Castanea Sativa Mill.) Nursery Production
Forests 2021, 12(7), 850; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12070850 - 28 Jun 2021
Viewed by 329
Abstract
In forest nurseries, intensive use of non-renewable substrates such as peat and high application rates of chemical synthesis fertilizers lead to environmental problems and high susceptibility to biotic and abiotic stresses. This work aims to seek more sustainable crop management to help mitigate [...] Read more.
In forest nurseries, intensive use of non-renewable substrates such as peat and high application rates of chemical synthesis fertilizers lead to environmental problems and high susceptibility to biotic and abiotic stresses. This work aims to seek more sustainable crop management to help mitigate these problems, combining the substitution of peat by compost and the use of growth-promoting microorganisms (PGPs) as a fertilization tool. For this purpose, a trial was carried out to test the effectiveness of an agricultural waste compost and a biostimulant based on PGP microorganisms in the production of Castanea sativa plants in a forest nursery. This trial assessed the growth of plants, with both inputs separately and combined, and then studied the tolerance of chestnut seedlings to water deficit. The results showed that partial substitution of peat by compost is possible, but not complete, as the high levels of conductivity and pH generated by a high proportion of compost negatively affected plant growth. It was also noted that the application of the biostimulant enables the complete substitution of mineral fertilization. Moreover, at the end of the nursery phase, chestnut seedlings treated with the biostimulant showed the same or even better quality than chestnut seedlings obtained with conventional fertilization, also resulting in greater resistance to water deficit, based on the increase in root volume and the improvement of the physiological status. Changes observed in both quantity and composition of microbiota associated with chestnut rhizosphere after inoculation with PGPs were related to the improvement observed. In relation to water deficit resistance, a positive synergy was also observed with the combination of both inputs, since plants with full substitution of peat by compost combined with PGP-based fertilization showed the greatest drought resistance. Full article
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Article
Diversity of Ectomycorrhizal Fungal Communities in Four Types of Stands in Pinus massoniana Plantation in the West of China
Forests 2021, 12(6), 719; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12060719 - 01 Jun 2021
Viewed by 523
Abstract
Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi can form symbioses with plant roots, which play an important role in regulating the rhizosphere microenvironment. As a broad-spectrum ECM tree species, Pinus massoniana forms symbiotic relationship called mycorrhiza with various ECM fungal species. In this study, four types of [...] Read more.
Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi can form symbioses with plant roots, which play an important role in regulating the rhizosphere microenvironment. As a broad-spectrum ECM tree species, Pinus massoniana forms symbiotic relationship called mycorrhiza with various ECM fungal species. In this study, four types of forests were selected from a 38-year-old Pinus plantation in eastern Sichuan, namely, pure P. massoniana forest (MC), P. massoniana mixed with Cunninghamia lanceolata forest (MS), P. massonianaCryptomeria fortunei forest (ML), and P. massoniana–broadleaved forest (MK), the species mixture ratio of all forests was 1:1. The ITS2 segment of ECM root tip sequenced by high-throughput sequencing using the Illumina MiSeq sequencing platform. (1) The ECM fungi of these four P. massoniana forests showed similar dominant genera but different relative abundances in community structure during the three seasons. (2) The alpha diversity index of ECM fungi was significantly influenced by season and forest type. (3) Soil pH, soil organic matter (SOM), total nitrogen (TN), C/N ratio, and total phosphorus (TP) influenced the ECM fungal community structure in different seasons. In summary, there were significant differences in ECM fungal communities among different forest types and different seasons; the colonization rate of ECM fungal in P. massonianaCunninghamia lanceolata was the highest, so we infer that Cunninghamia lanceolata is the most suitable tree species for mixed with P. massoniana in three mixture forests. Full article
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Article
Plantations of Cinnamomum camphora (Linn) Presl with Distinct Soil Bacterial Communities Mitigate Soil Acidity within Polluted Locations in Southwest China
Forests 2021, 12(6), 657; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12060657 - 22 May 2021
Viewed by 341
Abstract
Although the underlying mechanisms remain unknown, soils from different forest types exhibit distinct acidification-buffering capacities. We investigated soil properties and bacterial communities across five plantation types and different soil horizons in a severely acid-polluted site in Southwest China and evaluated the potential mechanisms [...] Read more.
Although the underlying mechanisms remain unknown, soils from different forest types exhibit distinct acidification-buffering capacities. We investigated soil properties and bacterial communities across five plantation types and different soil horizons in a severely acid-polluted site in Southwest China and evaluated the potential mechanisms driving differences in community structure. Soils collected from pure stands of Pinus massoniana Lamb.or Schima superba Gardn. et Champ. or mixed stands of these species showed the lowest soil pH and greater abundances of acid-producing and acidophilic taxa (Halanaerobiales and Rhodospirillales). Soils from pure stands of Cinnamomum camphora (Linn) Presl, or a mixture of C. camphora and P. massoniana, yielded the greatest concentrations of exchangeable calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) and greater soil pH. Increased relative abundances of beneficial taxa may have contributed to soil aggregate formation (e.g., Bradyrhizobium canariense and Terracidiphilus sp.) and heightened environmental stress resistance (e.g., Gaiellales). Fewer acid-producing and acidophilic taxa found in soils associated with C. camphora suggest that planting C. camphora may help soils recover from acidification, while planting S. superba may not be as beneficial. Our findings illustrate how differences in soil microbial communities may impact soil-acidification-buffering capacity across different forest types, which have important implications for understanding environmental functions within the context of microbial diversity. Full article
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Article
Insights into Distribution of Soil Available Heavy Metals in Karst Area and Its Influencing Factors in Guilin, Southwest China
Forests 2021, 12(5), 609; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12050609 - 12 May 2021
Viewed by 465
Abstract
The bioavailable contents of heavy metals in karstic soils are a subject of increasing concern since the uptake of heavy metals by plants can pose a severe threat to food safety and public health. However, the bioavailable contents of heavy metals and their [...] Read more.
The bioavailable contents of heavy metals in karstic soils are a subject of increasing concern since the uptake of heavy metals by plants can pose a severe threat to food safety and public health. However, the bioavailable contents of heavy metals and their effective factors are poorly understood in karst regions. Calcareous soil and red soil developed from carbonate and clastic rocks, respectively, were chosen from a typical karst region (Guilin) of southwestern China, and the total (CT) and available (CA) contents of 11 heavy metals, as well as their influencing factors in soil profiles, were investigated. The results showed that calcareous soil has greater soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, available nitrogen, available potassium, and calcium (Ca) contents than red soil, but lower available phosphorus and C:N. Acid-soluble Ca (Aca) was the dominant fraction in both types of soil. Heavy metals were highly accumulated in calcareous soil, mainly controlled by secondary enrichment in the processing of carbonate rock weathering. For the majority of metals, calcareous soil had higher CT and lower CA than red soil. According to a redundancy analysis (RDA) and Pearson correlation coefficient, the high pH and Ca content in calcareous soils were primary factors influencing both the CT and CA of the metals, especially residual Ca to CT and Aca to CA. Additionally, higher soil cation exchange capacity and clay minerals also probably improved the immobility of heavy metals. Full article
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Article
Soil Microbiome Composition along the Natural Norway Spruce Forest Life Cycle
Forests 2021, 12(4), 410; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12040410 - 30 Mar 2021
Viewed by 442
Abstract
Stand-replacing disturbances are a key element of the Norway spruce (Picea abies) forest life cycle. While the effect of a natural disturbance regime on forest physiognomy, spatial structure and pedocomplexity was well described in the literature, its impact on the microbiome, [...] Read more.
Stand-replacing disturbances are a key element of the Norway spruce (Picea abies) forest life cycle. While the effect of a natural disturbance regime on forest physiognomy, spatial structure and pedocomplexity was well described in the literature, its impact on the microbiome, a crucial soil component that mediates nutrient cycling and stand productivity, remains largely unknown. For this purpose, we conducted research on a chronosequence of sites representing the post-disturbance development of a primeval Norway spruce forest in the Calimani Mts., Romania. The sites were selected along a gradient of duration from 16 to 160 years that ranges from ecosystem regeneration phases of recently disturbed open gaps to old-growth forest stands. Based on DNA amplicon sequencing, we followed bacterial and fungal community composition separately in organic, upper mineral and spodic horizons of present Podzol soils. We observed that the canopy opening and subsequent expansion of the grass-dominated understorey increased soil N availability and soil pH, which was reflected in enlarged bacterial abundance and diversity, namely due to the contribution of copiotrophic bacteria that prefer nutrient-richer conditions. The fungal community composition was affected by the disturbance as well but, contrary to our expectations, with no obvious effect on the relative abundance of ectomycorrhizal fungi. Once the mature stand was re-established, the N availability was reduced, the pH gradually decreased and the original old-growth forest microbial community dominated by acidotolerant oligotrophs recovered. The effect of the disturbance and forest regeneration was most evident in organic horizons, while the manifestation of these events was weaker and delayed in deeper soil horizons. Full article
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Article
Reduced Organic Carbon Content during the Evolvement of Calcareous Soils in Karst Region
Forests 2021, 12(2), 221; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12020221 - 14 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 418
Abstract
Understanding the changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) storage is important for accurately predicting ecosystem C sequestration and/or potential C losses, but the relevant information, especially for the evolvement of calcareous soil is limited in karst regions. Three calcareous soils with different evolvement [...] Read more.
Understanding the changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) storage is important for accurately predicting ecosystem C sequestration and/or potential C losses, but the relevant information, especially for the evolvement of calcareous soil is limited in karst regions. Three calcareous soils with different evolvement intensities were sampled from an evergreen broadleaved forest in the subtropical region of southwest of China to investigate the changes in different SOC fractions and microbial communities. The results showed that: (1) The contents of SOC, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), mineral protected organic carbon (MOC), and recalcitrant organic carbon (ROC) significantly decreased with increasing evolvement intensity of calcareous soil, but pH and the chemical composition of SOC, including Alkyl C, O-alkyl C, Aromatic C, and Carbonyl C, did not significantly change, suggesting that various SOC fractions synergistically decrease with the evolvement of calcareous soil. (2) The evolvement of calcareous soil had a substantial negative effect on total phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA), bacteria (i.e., Gram positive bacteria and Gram negative bacteria), fungi, and actinomycetes, but did not affect the ratio of fungi to bacteria. This result supported the conclusion that various SOC fractions were synchronously loss with the evolvement of calcareous soil. (3) Results from the multivariate statistical analysis showed a significant correlation between SOC fractions (including SOC, DOC, MOC, and ROC) and soil base cations, mainly calcium (Ca), iron (Fe), and aluminum (Al). This strengthens the fact that SOC stability largely depends on the complex relationship between organic matter and mineral composition in soil. Taken together, the reduction of SOC during the evolvement of soil in the karst areas accords with some mechanisms of previous studies (e.g., microbial composition and soil geochemistry), and also has its own unique characteristics (e.g., the relative contribution of carbons to chemical shift regions of CPMAS 13C-NMR spectra and F:B ratio). Full article
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Article
Soil Biodiversity as Affected by Different Thinning Intensities in a Pinus laricio Stand of Calabrian Apennine, South Italy
Forests 2021, 12(1), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010108 - 19 Jan 2021
Viewed by 888
Abstract
Forest soil biodiversity, which drives natural ecosystem multifunctionality, can be altered by incorrect forestry management practices. Pinus laricio is the most representative and widespread conifer species in Calabria, South Italy, and appropriate management is needed to maintain Pinus laricio forest for its great [...] Read more.
Forest soil biodiversity, which drives natural ecosystem multifunctionality, can be altered by incorrect forestry management practices. Pinus laricio is the most representative and widespread conifer species in Calabria, South Italy, and appropriate management is needed to maintain Pinus laricio forest for its great economic and natural value. In Europe, thinning is considered the most effective silvicultural treatment to maintain/increase the ecological value of coniferous stands. In this study, moderate thinning (MT), intense thinning (HT), and clear cut (CC) treatments were used to manage Pinus laricio stands with the aim of identifying the thinning intensity that is less detrimental to soil biodiversity. The effects of the different thinning intensities were evaluated, in two contrasting seasons (summer and winter), on the abundance, and diversity of arthropods, fungi, and bacteria colonies as well as on selected soil properties (organic matter, humification index, bulk density, pH) related to soil habitability. Results evidenced that the abundance, species richness, and diversity of arthropods, as well as fungi, bacteria colonies, and soil properties, changed with the treatments and seasons. Under HT, the greatest biodiversity and the highest amounts of arthropods, fungi, and bacteria were found in both seasons. This study finds evidence for Connell’s intermediate disturbance hypothesis, highlighting that the greatest organic carbon content and humification index, as well as the lowest bulk density, found in HT reduced the likelihood of competitive exclusion between occurring species, thereby promoting high species richness and diversity. This study gives insights into ecological relationships between understory composition related to tree species abundance and soil community. Full article
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Article
The Nutrient Status of Plant Roots Reveals Competition Intensities in Rubber Agroforestry Systems
Forests 2020, 11(11), 1163; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111163 - 31 Oct 2020
Viewed by 598
Abstract
Controversial competition theories may confuse the current understanding of belowground plant competition and thus result in incorrect diagnoses and mitigation strategies for nutrient competition. As such, the management of nutrient competition is a major challenge in the application and development of rubber agroforestry [...] Read more.
Controversial competition theories may confuse the current understanding of belowground plant competition and thus result in incorrect diagnoses and mitigation strategies for nutrient competition. As such, the management of nutrient competition is a major challenge in the application and development of rubber agroforestry systems (AFSs). To explore the effects of plant competition on the nutrient status of rubber AFSs, this study measured the carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus concentrations of the litter and soil and in plant leaves, stems, and roots from five rubber plantations (i.e., rubber monocultures and rubber mixed with cocoa, coffee, tea, and Flemingia macrophylla (Willd.) Merr., 1910)). The relative competition intensity indexes were calculated to evaluate the competition intensity of each mixed-species system, and Bayesian networks were established to investigate the linkage effects of interspecific competition for nutrients. This study demonstrated that rubber trees had weak competition with cocoa trees, moderate competition with F. macrophylla and tea trees, and intense competition with coffee trees. With the increase in competition intensity, the negative effects of interspecific competition on soil gradually offset the improvement in soil nutrients achieved with intercropping. Nitrogen and phosphorous translocation from the stems to the roots was enhanced by competition. However, enhanced nutrient allocation to roots may have led to insufficient nitrogen and phosphorous supplies in plant leaves. The quality of the litter therefore decreased because the nutrient status of fallen leaves determines the initial litter conditions. Such consequences may reduce the release of nutrients from the litter to the soil and thus increase soil nutrient depletion. This study revealed that competition effects were most obvious for the root nutrient status, followed by the stem and leaf nutrient statuses. Moreover, this study further demonstrated that the nutrient concentration of plant roots can better indicate the intensity of nutrient competition than the nutrient concentration of other plant organs. Full article
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