Advanced
Litter production and nutrient input <italic>via</italic> litterfall in<italic> Quercus mongolica</italic> forest at Mt. Worak National Park
Litter production and nutrient input via litterfall in Quercus mongolica forest at Mt. Worak National Park
Journal of Ecology and Environment. 2011. Mar, 34(1): 107-113
Copyright ©2011, The Ecological Society of Korea
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the CreativeCommons Attribution Non-Commercial License(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/)which permits unrestricted non-commercialuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided theoriginal work is properly cited.
  • Received : December 27, 2010
  • Accepted : January 10, 2011
  • Published : March 01, 2011
Download
PDF
e-PUB
PubReader
PPT
Export by style
Article
Author
Metrics
Cited by
TagCloud
About the Authors
Chang-Hwan Shin
Ho-Yeon Won
Hyeong-Tae Mun
htmun@kongju.ac.kr

Abstract
In this study, litter production, the nutrient concentration of each component of litterfall, and the amount of nutrient input to the forest floor via litterfall were assessed for four years from May 2005 through April 2009 in a Quercus mongolica forest in Mt. Worak National Park. The average amount of leaf litter, branch and bark, reproductive organs (flowers and nuts), and miscellaneous categories for 4 years were 2.921 ± 0.242, 1.112 ± 0.288, 0.625 ± 0.176 and 0.837 ± 0.209 t ha -1 y -1 ,respectively. The average percentage of leaf litter, branch and bark, reproductive organs and miscellaneous categories for 4 years were 53.2 ± 7.31, 20.2 ± 4.43, 11.4 ± 2.59 and 15.2 ± 3.35%, respectively. The amount of total litterfall in 2005,2006, 2007, and 2008 was 5.438, 5.864, 5.669 and 5.009 t ha -1 y -1 , respectively. The average amount of litterfall for 4 years was 5.495 ± 0.368 t ha -1 y -1 . The average amount of N, P, K, Ca, and Mg returned to the forest floor via litterfall for 4 years in this Quercus mongolica forest were 53.4 ± 5.35, 3.8 ± 0.88, 17.8 ± 1.37, 17.2 ± 2.21 and 5.8 ± 0.55 kg ha -1 y -1 , respectively.
Keywords
INTRODUCTION
Forest ecosystems are self-maintained via primary production and nutrient cycling (Barnes et al. 1998).Some of the primary production in forest ecosystems is returned to the forest floor via litterfall, and then nutrients in litter are reused by plants after mineralization by decomposition processes carried out by a hugely diverse array of organisms (Lavelle and Spain 2001). Forest soil provides nutrients, water, and a medium for physical support for plant growth (Kimmins 1987). Soil nutrients originate primarily from the weathering of soil minerals.However, nutrients released through the decomposition of soil organic matter are fundamental to the maintenance of mature forest ecosystems (Daubenmire 1974,Barbour et al. 1987, Mun et al. 2007).
The litterfall of leaves, branches and other tree organs generally constitutes the principal pathway by which nutrients and organic matter are transferred to soil (Bray and Gorham 1964, Wiegert and Monk 1972, Caritat et al. 2006, Blanco et al. 2008). Litter is the food source for decomposers and detritivores, and the means by which nutrients are returned to the cycling pool (Meentemeyer et al. 1982, Barbour et al. 1987, Baker et al. 2001, Blanco et al. 2008). Nutrient cycling describes the movement within and among various biotic or abiotic entities in which nutrients occur in the environment (Lavelle and Spain 2001).
As a component of the Korean National Long-Term Ecological Research Program, we have begun a study of carbon and nutrient cycling in major plant communities,including Quercus variabilis, Q. mongolica , and Pinus densiflora at Mt. Worak National Park in Chungbuk Province since April 2005. As part of an ongoing investigation into nutrient cycling, we are conducting a study of litter production and decomposition in these forests. The principal objective of this study was to quantify the total amount of nutrients returned to the forest floor via litterfall in a Q. mongolica forest located in Mt. Worak National Park. For this study, seasonal litterfall and the nutrient concentration of litterfall were analyzed for 4 years from May 2005 through April 2009, and the total amounts of nutrient input to the forest floor via litterfall were calculated.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
- Study area
The Mt. Worak National Park is located between Mt. Sobak and Mt. Sogri (N 36°47'-36°55', E 128°4'-128°12'), and stretches over both Gyeongsangbuk-do and Chungcheongbuk-do in Korea. The highest peak in Mt. Worak National Park, Munsubong, is 1,162 m above sea level. The Q. mongolica forest studied herein was located 900 m above sea level at Medumak, in a south-west direction (N 36°51'19", E 128°12'23"). Tree density was 950 trees/ha and average diameter at breast height (DBH) in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 were 27.03 ± 6.97, 27.21 ± 7.01, 27.39 ± 7.06 and 27.55 ± 7.07 cm, respectively. In the shrub layer, Lindera obtusiloba dominated, and Fraxinus rhynchophylla and Lespedeza maximowiczii were distributed with low density. In the herb layer, Codonopsis lanceolata and Aster scaber were distributed at very low density. According to the Jechon meteorological station, about 30 km from the study area, annual average temperature and precipitation for thirty years from 1979 through 2008 were 10.1°C and 1,349.8 mm, respectively. The annual average temperature and precipitation for four years from 2005 through 2008 were 10.5°C and 1,549.5 mm, respectively.
- Litterfall collection and chemical analysis
Five circular litter traps, with opening areas of 0.5 m2, were randomly established in the Q. mongolica forest in April 2005. Litter traps were leveled approximately 50 cm above the ground to prevent the input of resuspended windblown materials from the forest floor. Litterfall collections began on May 2005 and continued for 4 years in every month except for the winter season. The litter collected from the littertraps was brought into the laboratory and separated into leaves, branches and bark, 108reproductive organs, and miscellaneous (litterfall from shrubs). Each component was weighed after drying in a drying oven at 80°C for 72 h and ground with a mixer for chemical analysis.
Chemical analysis of each component of litterfall was carried out in 3 replicates. After the litter samples were digested on a block digestor, T-N and T-P were analyzed with a flow injection analyzer (Lachat QuickChem 8000; Zellweger Analytics, Milwaukee, WI, USA). K, Ca, and Mg in litter were determined using an atomic absorption spectrophotometer (Perkin-Elmer 3110; Perkin-Elmer, Waltham, MA, USA) after wet digestion (Allen et al. 1974). All calculations of the nutrient contents of sample materials were based on the means of three replicate analyses. The total amount of each nutrient returned to the forest floor via litterfall for each year was calculated from each nutrient concentration and the dry weights of each component of litter.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
- Litter production
Litterfall in Q. mongolica forest continued throughout the year, peaking in autumn (October in 2006 and 2008, November in 2005 and 2007) ( Fig. 1 ). In May, the proportion of reproductive organ, primarily the debris of the male flower of Q. mongolica , was relatively higher than the proportion of other litter components. Acorn production of Q. mongolica evidenced variation during the experimental period. Acorn production in 2006 was the highest, with a value of 0.606 t/ha. The amount of litterfall in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 was 5.438, 5.864, 5.669, and 5.009 t ha -1 y -1 , respectively ( Table 1 ). The yearly variation of litter production was not great. The average amount of litterfall for 4 years was 5.495 ± 0.368 t ha -1 y -1 .
Yi et al. (2005) reported that the litter production of Q. mongolica natural forests ranged from 314.3 to 554.9 g m -2 y -1 (average 428.5 g m -2 y -1 ). Litter production of oak forests in Korea ranged from 248.0 to 876.1 g m -2 y -1 (Son et al. 2004). Raich and Nadelhoffer (1989) reported that litter production in temperate deciduous forests ranged from 230 to 710 g m -2 y -1 . Litter production of Q. mongolica forests in this study area fell within those ranges. Namgung (2010) reported that the average amount of litter production of Q. variabilis forest in Mt. Worak was 5.30 ± 0.09 t ha -1 y -1 . The amount of litter production in this Q. mongolica forest was more or less higher than that of Namgung (2010). Namgung and Mun (2009) reported
Lager Image
Seasonal changes of each component of litterfall in Quercus mongolica forest over 4 years at Mt. Worak National Park. Misc. miscellaneous; Rep. organ reproductive organ.
Lager Image
Pie graph showing the average percentages of each component of litterfall for 4 years in a Quercus mongolica forest in Mt. Worak National Park. Misc. miscellaneous; Rep. organ reproductive organ.
that the average amount of litter production of Pinus densiflora forest in Mt. Worak over 3 years was 3.078 ± 0.018 t ha -1 y -1 , which was much lower than that of Q. mongolica forest. Gholz et al. (1985) reported that the differences in litter production might be related to tree density, age, and canopy cover among forests (Mun et al. 2007, Namgung and Mun 2009).
The average proportion of leaf, branch and bark, re-
Amount of litterfall (kg ha-1y-1) for 4 years from May 2005 through April 2009 in the Quercus mongolica forest at Mt. Worak National Park
Lager Image
Amount of litterfall (kg ha-1 y-1) for 4 years from May 2005 through April 2009 in the Quercus mongolica forest at Mt. Worak National Park
productive organs, and miscellaneous categories of total litterfall for 4 years were 53.2, 20.2, 11.4, and 15.2%, respectively ( Fig. 2 ). The yearly variation in the reproductive organ category was highest among litter components. The proportions of the reproductive organ category in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 were 10.1, 15.2, 9.6, and 10.3%, respectively.
Namgung (2010) reported that the average proportions of leaf, branch and bark, reproductive organs, and miscellaneous categories of total litterfall in a Q. variabilis forest over 4 years were 67.5, 13.3, 10.1, and 9.1%, respectively. Namgung and Mun (2009) reported that the average proportion of leaf, branch and bark, reproductive organ, and miscellaneous categories of total litterfall in a Pinus densiflora forest over 3 years were 61.9, 10.4, 5.2, and 22.5%, respectively. The proportion of leaves in the total litterfall in this study area was lower than those in the Q. variabilis and P. densiflora forests (Namgung and Mun 2009, Namgung 2010). However, the proportion of branch and bark of the total litterfall was higher than those in Q. variabilis
Lager Image
Seasonal changes of (a) N (b) P (c) K (d) Ca and (e) Mg concentration (mg/g) of each component of litterfall in Quercus mongolica forest at Mt. Worak National Park. Misc. miscellaneous; Rep. organ reproductive organ.
and P. densiflora forests located in Mt. Worak. The higher proportion of branch and bark litterfall in this Q. mongolica forest relative to those measured in the Q. variabilis and P. densiflora forests appeared to be relevant to forest age. The Q. mongolica forest in this study area is much older than the Q. variabilis and P. densiflora forests (Namgung and Mun 2009, Namgung 2010).
- Nutrient concentration of litterfall
N concentration in leaf litterfall was low in the autumn and spring, and high in the summer season ( Fig. 3 a). N concentration in the reproductive organs was high in May or June when the debris of male flowers of Q. mongolica falls. N concentration in the branch and bark component evidenced no seasonal trend over four years. Like the N concentration, the P concentration in leaf litterfall was low in the autumn and spring. P concentration in branch and bark litterfall was lowest among the litterfall components ( Fig. 3 b). K concentration in branch and bark litterfall was lowest among the litterfall components ( Fig. 3 c). By way of contrast, Ca concentrations in branch and bark litterfall were the highest, and those in reproductive organ were the lowest among the litterfall components ( Fig. 3 d). Mg concentrations in the leaf litterfall and miscellaneous fractions were higher than those in the branch and bark and reproductive organ fractions ( Fig. 3 e).
The average concentration of nutrients in each component of litterfall in the Q. mongolica forest for 4 years was summarized in Table 2 . With the exception of Ca, the nutrient concentration of leaf litterfall was higher than those in other litterfall components.
Namgung (2010) reported that the average concentration of N, P, K, Ca, and Mg in leaf litterfall in the Q. variabilis forest at Mt. Worak over 4 years was 11.53, 0.67, 2.38, 3.15, and 2.14 mg/g, respectively. The average concentrations of N, P, and K in leaf litterfall in Q. mongolica were higher than those in Q. variabilis . However, the average concentrations of Ca and Mg in Q. mongolica were lower than those in Q. variabilis (Namgung 2010). Namgung and Mun (2009) reported that the average concentrations of N, P, K, Ca, and Mg in a P. densiflora forest at the Mt. Worak site over 3 years were 6.34, 0.32, 1.45, 2.44, and 0.37, respectively; this was much lower than those in this study and in the Q. variabilis forests (Namgung 2010). The nutrient concentrations of other components of litterfall in oak forests were higher than those in pine litterfall (Namgung et al. 2008, Namgung 2010).
- Nutrients returned to forest floor via litterfall
The amount of each nutrient returned to the forest floor via litterfall in the Q. mongolica forest was summarized in Table 3 . As shown in Table 3 , the amounts of annual input of N, P, K, Ca and Mg to the forest floor
May 2005 through April 2009 inQuercus mongolicaforest at Mt. Worak National Park
Lager Image
May 2005 through April 2009 in Quercus mongolica forest at Mt. Worak National Park
Amount of nutrient (kg ha-1y-1) input to forest floor via litterfall for 4 years from May 2005 through April 2009 in theQuercus mongolicaforest at Mt. Worak National Park
Lager Image
Amount of nutrient (kg ha-1 y-1) input to forest floor via litterfall for 4 years from May 2005 through April 2009 in the Quercus mongolica forest at Mt. Worak National Park
via litterfall in Q. mongolica forests in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 were 58.46, 51.35, 57.03, and 46.84 kg ha -1 y -1 for N, 4.93, 2.88, 3.35, and 3.87 kg ha -1 y -1 for P, 19.25, 16.41, 16.86, and 18.64 kg ha-1 y-1 for K, 20.40, 15.46, 16.27, and 16.47 kg ha -1 y -1 for Ca, 5.68, 5.24, 5.61, and 6.53 kg ha -1 y -1 for Mg, respectively. The average amount of N, P, K, Ca, and Mg returned to the forest floor in this Q. mongolica forest for 4 years was 53.42 ± 5.35, 3.76 ± 0.88, 17.79 ± 1.37, 17.15 ± 2.21, and 5.76 ± 0.55 kg ha -1 y -1 , respectively ( Table 3 ).
Namgung and Mun (2009) reported that the average amount of N, P, K, Ca, and Mg returned to the forest floor via litterfall in a P. densiflora forest in Mt. Worak over 3 years was 18.014, 0.878, 4.240, 7.349, and 2.172 kg ha -1 y -1 , respectively, which was substantially lower than the amounts recorded in this Q, mongolica forest. However, Namgung (2010) reported that the average amount of N, P, K, Ca, and Mg returned to the forest floor via litterfall for 4 years in a Q. variabilis forest at the Mt. Worak site was 44.47, 2.50, 12.26, 17.23, and 9.56 kg ha -1 y -1 , respectively, which was more or less similar to the results observed in this Q. mongolica forest. Generally speaking, the amounts of nutrients returned to the forest floor via litterfall in oak forests was much higher than those in the pine forests. This is because the annual input of litterfall and nutrient concentration of unit weight of litterfall in oak forests were greater than those in the pine forest (Kwak and Kim 1992, Mun and Kim 1992, Kim et al. 1997, Mun et al. 2007). Soil nutrient concentrations in oak forests were much higher than those in the pine forest at Mt. Worak (Choi et al. 2006). This may be due to the greater litter production and higher nutrient concentrations of litter in the oak forest relative to those in the pine forest. Another reason for this is that the decay rates of oak litter are higher than the decay rates of pine needle litter (Mun and Joo 1994, Mun et al. 2007, Namgung et al. 2008, Mun 2009).
Acknowledgements
This study was supported by Korea Ministry of Environment as National Long-Term Ecological Research Project, and by the Grant of the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (The Regional Core Research Program/Zero Energy Green Village Technology Center)
References
Allen SE , Grimshaw HM , Parkinson JA , Quarmby C 1974 Chemical Analysis of Ecological Materials Blackwell Oxford
Baker TT 3rd , Lockaby BG , Conner WH , Meier CE , Stanturf JA , Burke MK 2001 Leaf litter decomposition and nutrient dynamics in four southern forested floodplain communities Soil Sci Soc Am J 65 1334 - 1347    DOI : 10.2136/sssaj2001.6541334x
Barbour MG , Burk JH , Pitts WD 1987 Terrestrial Plant Ecology Benjamin/Cummings Pubs Co Menlo Park CA.
Barnes BV , Zak DR , Denton SR , Spurr SH 1998 Forest Ecology 4th ed John Wiley & Sons Inc New York NY.
Blanco JA , Imbert JB , Castillo FJ 2008 Nutrient return via litterfall in two constrating Pinus sylvestris forests in the Pyrenees under different thinning intensities For Ecol Manag 256 1840 - 1852    DOI : 10.1016/j.foreco.2008.07.011
Bray JR , Gorham E 1964 Litter production in forests of the world Adv Ecol Res 2 101 - 157    DOI : 10.1016/S0065-2504(08)60331-1
Caritat A , Gracía-Berthu E , Lapeña R , Vilar L 2006 Litter production in a Quercus suber forest of Montseny (NE Spain) and its relationship to meteorological conditions Ann For Sci 63 791 - 800    DOI : 10.1051/forest:2006061
Choi HJ , Jeon IY , Shin CH , Mun HT 2006 Soil properties of Quercus variabilis forest on Youngha valley in Mt. Worak National Park J Ecol Field Biol KOI KISTI1.1003/JNL.JAKO200604623631004 29 439 - 443    DOI : 10.5141/JEFB.2006.29.5.439
Daubenmire RF 1974 Plant and Environment: a Textbook of Plant Autecology 3rd ed John Wiley and Sons Inc New York NY
Gholz HL , Perry CS , Cropper WP , Hendry LC 1985 Litterfall decomposition and nitrogen and phosphorus dynamics in a chronosequence of Slash pine (Pinus elliottii) plantations. For Sci 31 463 - 478
Kim CS , Koo KS , Kim YK , Lee WK , Jeong JH , Seo HS 1997 Dynamics of litterfall and nutrient inputs in Quercus acutissima and Pinus koraiensis stands FRI J For Sci 55 13 - 18
Kimmins JP 1987 Forest Ecology Macmillan Pub Co New York NY.
Kwak YS , Kim JH 1992 Secular changes of density litterfall phytomass and primary productivity in mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica) forest Korean J Ecol KOI KISTI1.1003/JNL.JAKO199211919967675 15 19 - 33
Lavelle P , Spain AV 2001 Soil Ecology Kluwer Scientific Publications Amsterdam
Meentemeyer V , Box EO , Thompson R 1982 World patterns and amounts of terrestrial plant litter production BioScience 32 125 - 128    DOI : 10.2307/1308565
Mun HT 2009 Weight Loss and Nutrient Dynamics during Leaf Litter Decomposition of Quercus mongolica in Mt. Worak National Park J Ecol Field Biol KOI KISTI1.1003/JNL.JAKO200920549300983 32 123 - 127    DOI : 10.5141/JEFB.2009.32.2.123
Mun HT , Joo HT 1994 Litter production and decomposition in the Quercus acutissima and Pinus rigida forests Korean J Ecol KOI KISTI1.1003/JNL.JAKO199411919966346 17 345 - 353
Mun HT , Kim JH 1992 Litterfall decomposition and nutrient dynamics of litter in red pine (Pinus densiflora) and Chinese thuja (Thuja orientalis) stands in the limestone area Korean J Ecol KOI KISTI1.1003/JNL.JAKO199211919967779 15 147 - 155
Mun HT , Kim SJ , Shin CH 2007 Litter production and nutrient contents of litterfall in oak and pine forests at Mt. Worak National Park J Ecol Field Biol KOI KISTI1.1003/JNL.JAKO200734514805317 30 63 - 68    DOI : 10.5141/JEFB.2007.30.1.063
Namgung J 2010 Production and nutrient cycling in theQuercus variabilisforest at Mt. Worak Kongju National University Gongju Korea
Namgung J , Han AR , Mun HT 2008 Weight loss and nutrient dynamics during leaf litter decomposition of Quercus variabilis and Pinus densiflora at Mt. Worak National Park J Ecol Field Biol KOI KISTI1.1003/JNL.JAKO200811440578008 31 291 - 295    DOI : 10.5141/JEFB.2008.31.4.291
Namgung J , Mun HT 2009 Litterfall and nutrient input via litterfall in Pinus densiflora forest at Mt. Worak National Park Korean J Environ Biol KOI KISTI1.1003/JNL.JAKO200919061725404 27 261 - 265
Raich JW , Nadelhoffer KJ 1989 Belowground carbon allocation in forest ecosystems: global trends Ecology 70 1346 - 1354
Son YH , Park IH , Jin HO , Yi MJ , Kim DY , Kim RH , Hwang JO , Hong SK , Lee JA , Ihm BS , Farina A , Son Y , Kim ES , Choe JC 2004 Biomass and nutrient cycling of natural oak forest in Korea. In: Ecological Issues in a Changing World: Status Response and Strategy 217-232 Kluwer Academic Publishers Dordrecht
Wiegert RG , Monk CD 1972 Litter production and energy accumulation in three plantations of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.). Ecology 53 949 - 953    DOI : 10.2307/1934314
Yi MJ , Son Y , Jin HO , Park IH , Kim DY , Kim YS , Shin DM 2005 Belowground carbon allocation of natural Quercus mongolica forests estimated from litterfall and soil respiration measurements Korean J Agric For Meteorol KOI KISTI1.1003/JNL.JAKO200504840831202 7 227 - 234