Selective logging of lowland evergreen rainforests in Chiloe Island, Chile: Effects of changing tree species composition on soil nitrogen transformations
Lowland evergreen rainforests in southern Chile growing on highly productive soils and accessible sites have been subjected to traditional and industrial logging of valuable timber trees. Old-growth rain forests in this area are characterized by highly conservative N cycles, which results in an efficient N use of ecosystems. We hypothesize that different logging practices, by changing forest structure and species composition, can alter the quantity and quality (i.e. C/N ratio) of litterfall and soil organic matter and soil microbial processes that determine N storage and availability. To test this hypothesis we investigated chemical properties, microbial N transformations, N fluxes and N storage in soils of lowland evergreen rainforests of Chiloé Island after 10 years since industrial selective logging (ISL) and in stands subjected to traditional selective logging (TSL) by landowners in small properties. We compared them to reference unlogged old-growth stands (OG) in the same area. Tree basal area was more reduced in the stands subjected to ISL than to TSL. Litterfall inputs were similar in both logging treatments as in OG stands. This was due to greater biomass of understory species after logging. In TSL understory tree species determined a higher litterfall C/N ratio than ISL. We found higher soil N availability and content of base cations in surface soils of logged forests than in OG. The litter horizon of OG forest had significantly higher rates of non-symbiotic N fixation than logged forests. In the ISL treatment there was a trend toward increasing soil denitrification and significantly higher NO3-N/Nt ratio in spring waters, which led to a stronger d15N signal in surface and deep soils. We conclude that massive understory occupation by the shade-intolerant native bamboo Chusquea quila in ISL led to enhanced litter quality (lower C/N ratios) relaxing the tightness of the N cycle, which increased soil N availability leading to a higher proportion of nitrate in spring waters and higher gaseous N losses. In contrast, under TSL a higher litterfall C/N ratio slowed decomposition and net N mineralization rates thus reducing the chances for N losses, and enhancing C and N storage in soil. We suggest that sustainable logging practices in these rain forests should be based on lower rates of canopy removal to enhance colonization of the understory by shade-tolerant trees, which are associated with a more efficient N cycle. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
|Título según WOS:||Selective logging of lowland evergreen rainforests in Chiloe Island, Chile: Effects of changing tree species composition on soil nitrogen transformations|
|Título según SCOPUS:||Selective logging of lowland evergreen rainforests in Chiloé Island, Chile: Effects of changing tree species composition on soil nitrogen transformations|
|Título de la Revista:||FOREST ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT|
|Fecha de publicación:||2009|
|Página de inicio:||1660|