Forest development in temperate regions is considered to be a global carbon sink. Many studies have examined forest development after harvesting or fire from aboveground (e.g., biomass) or belowground (e.g., soil nutrient) perspectives. However, few studies have explored forest development from both perspectives simultaneously in cool-temperate forests in Japan. In this study, we examined changes over 105 years in both aboveground and belowground components during secondary natural succession. The aboveground biomass increased for 50 years and reached a plateau in a 105-year-old stand. The N mineralization rate increased during succession for 50 years, but showed a decline in the 105-year-old stand due to the decrease in the nitrification rate in late succession. The percent nitrification (i.e., relative contribution of nitrification to N mineralization) decreased significantly with increasing forest stand age. The N mineralization rates had significant relationships with N concentrations of the dominant tree foliage and litter fall and with the amount of litter fall N. Meanwhile, other belowground properties (i.e., soil pH, phenol concentration, soil microbial respiration, and litter mass loss) did not show any significant relationship with forest stand age. This may be because the soil at the study sites was heterogeneous and consisted of Cambisols and Andosols, the latter of which originally has high organic matter content, and thus may have buffered the effect of the aboveground development. These results indicate that belowground N dynamics are more closely associated with aboveground development than other belowground properties in these forests.
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