|Minnich, C; Persoh, D; Poll, C; Borken, W: Changes in chemical and microbial soil parameters following 8 years of deadwood decay: An experiment with Logs of 13 tree species in 30 forests, Ecosystems (2020), online: 2020-09-21, doi:10.1007/s10021-020-00562-z|
Deadwood may alter the chemical and microbial properties of forest soils. However, it is unclear how downed deadwood (logs) of different tree species affect nutrients, microbial activity and biomass in different forest soils and regions. We investigated the effect of logs on underlying soils after 8 years of decomposition in an experiment consisting of 13 log tree species replicated at 30 forest sites across three German regions with distinct climate and geology. Soils beneath logs were compared to soils without recognizable influence of deadwood (control) 8 m away. Carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous and calcium concentrations increased by 5–18% in the soils under logs, whereas soil potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese and aluminum were not or slightly negatively affected by logs. Soils beneath logs exhibited 33%, 18% and 54% higher carbon mineralization, microbial biomass and ergosterol (component of fungal cell membranes) contents, respectively. Despite major differences in decay rates, the effect on soil properties hardly differed among the 13 log tree species. The effect of logs on microbial and chemical soil parameters increased with decreasing concentration of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous and pH in the prevailing forest soils. Consequently, the strongest effects of logs on soil parameters occurred in plots with low soil nutrient contents and low soil pH. Our results suggest that logs of all tree species primarily increase the microbial activity and nutrient contents of acidic and nutrient-poor soils.