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Tree species traits cause divergence in soil acidification during four decades of postagricultural forest development

An De Schrijver UGent, Pieter De Frenne UGent, Jeroen Staelens UGent, Gorik Verstraeten UGent, Bart Muys, Lars Vesterdal, Karen Wuyts UGent, Lotte Van Nevel UGent, Stephanie Schelfhout UGent and Stefaan De Neve UGent, et al. (2012) GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY. 18(3). p.1127-1140
abstract
A change in land use from agriculture to forest generally increases soil acidity. However, it remains unclear to what extent plant traits can enhance or mitigate soil acidification caused by atmospheric deposition. Soil acidification is detrimental for the survival of many species. An in-depth understanding of tree species-specific effects on soil acidification is therefore crucial, particularly in view of the predicted global increases in acidifying nitrogen (N) deposition. Here, we report soil acidification rates in a chronosequence of broadleaved deciduous forests planted on former arable land in Belgium. This region receives one of the highest loads of potentially acidifying atmospheric deposition in Europe, which allowed us to study a ‘worst case scenario’. We show that less than four decades of forest development caused significant soil acidification. Atmospheric deposition undoubtedly and unequivocally drives postagricultural forests towards more acidic conditions, but the rate of soil acidification is also determined by the tree species-specific leaf litter quality and litter decomposition rates. We propose that the intrinsic differences in leaf litter quality among tree species create fundamentally different nutrient cycles within the ecosystem, both directly through the chemical composition of the litter and indirectly through its effects on the size and composition of earthworm communities. Poor leaf litter quality contributes to the absence of a burrowing earthworm community, which retards leaf litter decomposition and, consequently, results in forest-floor build-up and soil acidification. Also nutrient uptake and N2 fixation are causing soil acidification, but were found to be less important. Our results highlight the fact that tree species-specific traits significantly influence the magnitude of human pollution-induced soil acidification.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
litter quality, soil pH, exchangeable calcium, exchangeable aluminium, dinitrogen-fixing species, burrowing earthworms, atmospheric deposition, nutrient uptake
journal title
GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY
Glob. Change Biol.
volume
18
issue
3
pages
1127 - 1140
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000300671600027
JCR category
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
JCR impact factor
6.91 (2012)
JCR rank
5/209 (2012)
JCR quartile
1 (2012)
ISSN
1354-1013
DOI
10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02572.x
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
2068255
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-2068255
date created
2012-03-16 21:25:28
date last changed
2012-09-28 14:49:08
@article{2068255,
  abstract     = {A change in land use from agriculture to forest generally increases soil acidity. However, it remains unclear to what extent plant traits can enhance or mitigate soil acidification caused by atmospheric deposition. Soil acidification is detrimental for the survival of many species. An in-depth understanding of tree species-specific effects on soil acidification is therefore crucial, particularly in view of the predicted global increases in acidifying nitrogen (N) deposition. Here, we report soil acidification rates in a chronosequence of broadleaved deciduous forests planted on former arable land in Belgium. This region receives one of the highest loads of potentially acidifying atmospheric deposition in Europe, which allowed us to study a {\textquoteleft}worst case scenario{\textquoteright}. We show that less than four decades of forest development caused significant soil acidification. Atmospheric deposition undoubtedly and unequivocally drives postagricultural forests towards more acidic conditions, but the rate of soil acidification is also determined by the tree species-specific leaf litter quality and litter decomposition rates. We propose that the intrinsic differences in leaf litter quality among tree species create fundamentally different nutrient cycles within the ecosystem, both directly through the chemical composition of the litter and indirectly through its effects on the size and composition of earthworm communities. Poor leaf litter quality contributes to the absence of a burrowing earthworm community, which retards leaf litter decomposition and, consequently, results in forest-floor build-up and soil acidification. Also nutrient uptake and N2 fixation are causing soil acidification, but were found to be less important. Our results highlight the fact that tree species-specific traits significantly influence the magnitude of human pollution-induced soil acidification.},
  author       = {De Schrijver, An and De Frenne, Pieter and Staelens, Jeroen and Verstraeten, Gorik and Muys, Bart and Vesterdal, Lars and Wuyts, Karen and Van Nevel, Lotte and Schelfhout, Stephanie and De Neve, Stefaan and Verheyen, Kris},
  issn         = {1354-1013},
  journal      = {GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY},
  keyword      = {litter quality,soil pH,exchangeable calcium,exchangeable aluminium,dinitrogen-fixing species,burrowing earthworms,atmospheric deposition,nutrient uptake},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {1127--1140},
  title        = {Tree species traits cause divergence in soil acidification during four decades of postagricultural forest development},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02572.x},
  volume       = {18},
  year         = {2012},
}

Chicago
De Schrijver, An, Pieter De Frenne, Jeroen Staelens, Gorik Verstraeten, Bart Muys, Lars Vesterdal, Karen Wuyts, et al. 2012. “Tree Species Traits Cause Divergence in Soil Acidification During Four Decades of Postagricultural Forest Development.” Global Change Biology 18 (3): 1127–1140.
APA
De Schrijver, An, De Frenne, P., Staelens, J., Verstraeten, G., Muys, B., Vesterdal, L., Wuyts, K., et al. (2012). Tree species traits cause divergence in soil acidification during four decades of postagricultural forest development. GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY, 18(3), 1127–1140.
Vancouver
1.
De Schrijver A, De Frenne P, Staelens J, Verstraeten G, Muys B, Vesterdal L, et al. Tree species traits cause divergence in soil acidification during four decades of postagricultural forest development. GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY. 2012;18(3):1127–40.
MLA
De Schrijver, An, Pieter De Frenne, Jeroen Staelens, et al. “Tree Species Traits Cause Divergence in Soil Acidification During Four Decades of Postagricultural Forest Development.” GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY 18.3 (2012): 1127–1140. Print.