Ungulate herbivory modifies belowground properties differently depending on the afforestation practice in cool-temperate forests

Makoto Kobayashi1, Takashi Osono2, Saori Fujii3, Dai Koide3, Forest Isbell4, Akira S Mori3
1 Hokkaido University
2 Kyoto University
3 Yokohama National University
4 University of Georgia

O 5.8 in Linking biodiversity and biogeochemistry

15.07.2014, 16:10-16:30, H19

Drastic increases in ungulate herbivory are becoming increasingly common in many parts of the world, with potentially cascading effects on local vegetation and soil nutrient dynamics. Sustainable forest management will require an understanding of how afforestation practices alter the effects by ungulates on belowground part of vegetation, which has been little understood as compared to the aboveground but directly linked with soil nutrient dynamics. We tested two hypotheses: 1) the effect of ungulate on the root productivity differs depending on the afforestation type and 2) the reduction of root by ungulate leads to increased nitrogen leaching from surface to deeper soil due to a reduction in nitrproductivity ogen uptake by vegetation. Deer-exclosures were established in three types of forests with different species diversity of trees (monoculture plantation, natural forests and planted but abandoned forests (grassland)) in mixed-conifer broad-leaved forests, northern Japan. We investigated the effects by increased Japanese deer (Cervus nippon) abundance on fine root productivity and soil N dynamics more than ten years after the establishment of exclosures. We found that deer significantly reduced the fine root productivity only in natural forest. However, the consequent decrease in nitrogen uptake did not correlate with nitrogen leaching. Our results suggest that the root productivity of natural forest understory is sensitive to increases in ungulate abundances. Furthermore, nitrogen leaching from soil may be resilient even to drastic increases in deer population for more than ten years.

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last modified 2014-04-03