Pedosphere 30(3): 378--389, 2020
ISSN 1002-0160/CN 32-1315/P
©2020 Soil Science Society of China
Published by Elsevier B.V. and Science Press
Downed logs improve soil properties in old-growth temperate forests of northern Iran
Negar MOGHIMIAN1, Seyed Gholamali JALALI1, Yahya KOOCH1, Ana REY2
1Faculty of Natural Resources & Marine Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Noor 46417-76489 (Iran)
2Department of Biogeography and Global Change, National Museum of Natural History (MNCN), Spanish Scientific Council (CSIC), C/Serrano 115bis, Madrid 28006 (Spain)
      Dead trees, particularly downed logs, play an important role in the dynamics of forest ecosystem. Contribution of decaying wood to C and nutrient pools of forest soils depends on the tree species and degree of wood decay. However, the extent to which the downed logs affect the soil properties of temperate forests has rarely been evaluated. In this study, a mixed beech forest was selected in Liresar region of Mazandaran Province, northern Iran, to investigate if and how the presence of downed logs affected soil quality and function by comparing soils underneath degraded logs and nearby soils of the two dominant tree species (beech and hornbeam). We then explored how these effects occurred as downed logs decomposed by comparing the woods of both tree species at four degrees of decomposition. Degree of decay of downed logs was classified into four classes (DC1-DC4). Eight dead trees of each tree species were selected at the center of each sample plot. Three composite soil samples underneath each decaying log and 100 cm away from a decaying log were collected at two soil depths (0-15 and 15-30 cm) to analyze soil main physicochemical properties and microbial activity. The results revealed that downed logs affected soil physical (5% wetter than control soils), chemical (2% lower pH, 100% increase in organic C and total N in the case of hornbeam, and 2% increase in P), and biological characteristics (soil microbial respiration enhanced by 10%, and microbial biomass C 620 and 351.5 mg kg-1 and microbial biomass N 66.47 and 32.18 mg kg-1, respectively, in the cases of beech and hornbeam), thus resulting in significantly different soil microsites from those without downed logs. Presence of downed logs increased soil microbial activity and soil fertility as wood decayed. Thus, the presence of downed logs is an important factor influencing forest soils and should be taken into consideration in forest management practices.
Key Words:  beech,course woody debris,dead tree,decay degree,hornbeam,soil microbial activity,soil physicochemical properties
Citation: Moghimian N, Jalali S G, Kooch Y, Rey A. 2020. Downed logs improve soil properties in old-growth temperate forests of northern Iran. Pedosphere. 30(3): 378-389.
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