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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Department Soil Ecology - Prof. Dr. Eva Lehndorff

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Berg, B; Virzo De Santo, A; Rutigliano, FA; Fierro, A; Ekbohm, G: Limit values for plant litter decomposing in two contrasting soils - influence of litter elemental composition, Acta Oecologica, 24, 295-302 (2003)
The decomposition dynamics of four types of needle litter and three types of leaf litter were followed for 3 years at two very contrasting coniferous forest systems, a nutrient-rich silver fir (Abies alba Mill.) forest in south Italy (Monte Taburno) and a nutrient-poor Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) forest in central Sweden (Jädraås). Decomposition of the same litter type at the two sites did not differ in the early stages but proceeded further at the nutrient-rich forest site than at the nutrient-poor one. Limit values for decomposition were calculated and the differences for the same litter type between the two contrasting coniferous systems were investigated. At both sites six of the seven litter types gave significant (asymptotic) limit values for decomposition, which varied with litter type. For four litter types out of six the limit values differed significantly between the two sites and were always higher at the nutrient-rich site (Monte Taburno). Using all available data for litters incubated at the two sites revealed that at the nutrient-poor site (Jädraås) there was a significant negative relationship between litter N levels and limit values and there was also a significant negative relationship between initial concentrations of heavy metals (e.g. Zn, Cd, Cu) and limit values. In contrast, at the site Monte Taburno, rich in nutrients and in heavy metals, there was no such relationship. Author Keywords: Litter; Decomposition; Nutrients; Heavy metals; Limit value; Humic surface horizon
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