Influence of clearfelling on decomposition of Pinus radiata litter

  • Gadgil R
  • Gadgil P
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Abstract

Two experiments investigating the effect of clearfelling on decomposition of Pinus radiata D.Don litter are described. The first was a field trial in which P. radiata. trees were felled without disturbance to the litter layer. Small plots were laid out in the clearfelled area and in an adjacent closed-canopy stand. Screens of shade cloth were erected over the plots. Degree of shading had no effect on litter decomposition. In the second experiment, cuttings of P. radiata were planted in troughs designed to expose weighed experimental litter to the influence of plant roots but not to the influence of plant tops. Shades were placed over the trough surfaces and the plants grown until mycelial wefts were visible in the litter. Twenty-four troughs were then selected and plants in 12 of them were severed at litter level. Six troughs containing a growing plant and six with a "felled" plant were placed in a growth room simulating the climate of an open, clearfelled area. A similar set was placed in another room simulating the climate under a closed-canopy pine stand. Shades were removed from the troughs in the "open" climate room. AlI troughs were watered to field capacity daily. After 6 months, significantly more litter remained in the troughs with intact plants than in those where the plants had been "felIed", irrespective of whether they were in the "open" or in the "forest" climate room. The first experiment suggested and the second experiment confirmed that the biological changes resulting from clearfelling, including the removal of mycorrhizal root influence, were more important in increasing litter decomposition than the physical effect of the change in climate.

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Authors

  • Ruth L Gadgil

  • P D Gadgil

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