We studied variation in forest floor thickness in four plantations of red pine (Pinus resinosa Ait.) which were similar in age, soil type and associated vegetation. The plantations were located (west to east) in the Clear Creek, Moshannon, Sproul and Tiadaghton State Forests of Pennsylvania, USA. A gradient in forest floor thickness exists across these plantations; the forest floor is thickest in the west and it becomes progressively thinner toward the east. Decomposition of imported litter increased from west to east, suggesting that the variation in forest floor thickness is related to variation in the rate of decomposition. Decomposition rates were related to saprotroph abundance. Variation in forest floor N and phenolic concentrations, in overall mycorrhiza density and in the relative proportions of three common mycorrhiza morphotypes could not explain the variation in decomposition rate. The P concentrations and pH of the forest floor were significantly lower at Clear Creek and Moshannon, where decomposition rates were lowest, compared to Sproul and Tiadaghton, where decomposition rates were most rapid. This suggests that P concentration and pH may have exerted some control on decomposition.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Soil Science
- Plant Science