Aboveground Production and Nutrient Circulation along a Flooding Gradient in a South Carolina Coastal Plain Forest
Canadian Journal of Forest Research
NRC Research Press
Relative to effects of flooding, little is known about the influence of hydrology-nutrient interactions on aboveground net primary production (NPP) in forested wetlands. The authors found that nutrient circulation and NPP were closely related along a complex physical, chemical, and hydrologic gradient in a bottomland hardwood forest with four distinct communities. Aboveground biomass, NPP, biomass partitioning to stem production, growth efficiency, and soil macronutrient availability were greatest in the flooded zone, possibly because of the stable hydrologic regime. In the wet transition zone, trees were least productive, nutrient use efficiency was highest, and N retranslocation from foliage before abscission was "complete." Wet and dry transition zones had the lowest litterfall quality. Soil organic matter was negatively correlated with extractable NH4-N plus NO3-N before in situ incubations and positively correlated with litterfall lignin/N ratios. Lignin/P and C/N ratios were positively correlated with exchangeable soil Ca and Mg, cation exchange capacity, and clay content, and negatively correlated with extractable soil P. The scientists concluded that periodic flooding and associated widely fluctuating soil chemistry resulted in disequilibrium between the plant community and environmental conditions, which led to nutrient deficiency and low NPP in the transition zones compared with the continuously flooded and mesic zones.
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