Advancements in the Dynamics of Forest Litter Decomposition

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Soil".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 April 2024) | Viewed by 1318

Special Issue Editors


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1. State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
2. Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, CAS & MWR, 26 Xilong Rd., Yangling 712100, China
Interests: forest management; litter decomposition; soil microbial community; carbon cycling; soil fertility
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Forest litter decomposition is one of the cornerstones of ecosystems, crucial for nutrient cycling, soil health, and carbon sequestration. It serves as the natural recycling mechanism, converting organic matter back into essential nutrients that enrich the soil, thereby facilitating plant growth and maintaining forest health. Decomposition also regulates carbon flux, acting as a biological sink that either stores or releases carbon dioxide, thus influencing global climate patterns. In addition to these roles, litter decomposition is essential for water retention and quality, affecting both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems within and beyond forest boundaries. Despite its foundational importance, there are certain gaps in our understanding of this complex process.

Microbial communities, including bacteria and fungi, are instrumental in breaking down organic matter, but the intricacies of their roles and interactions are still under investigation. Similarly, climatic variables such as temperature, humidity, and seasonal fluctuations are known to have significant impacts on decomposition rates; yet, a unified model capturing these influences remains elusive. Forest management practices, such as selective logging, controlled fires, and even pesticide use, further complicate the decomposition landscape. These human interventions can have both short-term and long-term consequences on decomposition rates and nutrient cycles, affecting forest and adaptability to environmental changes. This Special Issue aims to deepen our understanding of the diverse elements and processes that govern the decomposition of forest litter.

Prof. Dr. Zhenhong Hu
Prof. Dr. Chengjie Ren
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • anthropogenic effects
  • carbon sequestration
  • chemical transformations
  • climatic variables
  • fauna
  • forest management
  • litter and deadwood decomposition
  • microbial communities
  • nutrient cycling
  • soil fertility

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Research

15 pages, 4531 KiB  
Article
Investigating Water Storage Dynamics in the Litter Layer: The Impact of Mixing and Decay of Pine Needles and Oak Leaves
by Anna Ilek, Ewa Błońska, Kamil Miszewski, Adrian Kasztelan and Magdalena Zborowska
Forests 2024, 15(2), 350; https://doi.org/10.3390/f15020350 - 11 Feb 2024
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Abstract
Little is known about how the degree of mixing various forest-forming species affects forest floor hydrology. We evaluated the water storage capacity of the resulting litter layer by mixing the litterfall of Scots pine and sessile oak and studying their decomposition time. We [...] Read more.
Little is known about how the degree of mixing various forest-forming species affects forest floor hydrology. We evaluated the water storage capacity of the resulting litter layer by mixing the litterfall of Scots pine and sessile oak and studying their decomposition time. We prepared 90 artificial samples containing pure pine litter, pure oak litter, and mixed pine–oak litter with varying shares of pine needles. These samples were subjected to 15 months of decomposition in soil. After every three months of decay, some samples were removed from the soil, and their water storage capacity, bulk density, and C:N ratio were evaluated. Our findings indicate that samples with the greatest water storage capacity had a low C:N ratio and a predominant share of oak leaves. Conversely, samples with a high C:N ratio and a predominant share of pine needles had the lowest water storage capacity. After 12 and 15 months of decomposition, the water storage capacity increased by more than 52% compared to the initial water capacity of the samples. The highest increase in water storage capacity (>40%) was observed in samples with a predominant share of oak leaves, while the lowest (approximately 28%) was recorded in samples with 80 and 100% of pine needles. Our findings suggest that introducing mixed-species stands, with deciduous species as the predominant component, can yield several ecological benefits, such as an increased ability to store water in forest floor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advancements in the Dynamics of Forest Litter Decomposition)
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