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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 65 No. 4, p. 1334-1347
    Received: July 24, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): ttbaker@nmsu.edu
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Leaf Litter Decomposition and Nutrient Dynamics in Four Southern Forested Floodplain Communities

  1. Terrell T. Baker *a,
  2. B. Graeme Lockabyb,
  3. William H. Connerc,
  4. Calvin E. Meierd,
  5. John A. Stanturfe and
  6. Marianne K. Burkef
  1. a College of Agriculture and Home Economics, New Mexico State Univ., Box 30003, MSC 3AE, Las Cruces, NM 88003-8003
    b School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn Univ., 108 M.W. Smith Hall, Auburn, AL 36849-5418
    c Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, Clemson Univ., P.O. Box 596, Georgetown, SC 29442
    d Center for Bottomland Hardwoods Research, USDA-Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Alexandria Forestry Center, Pineville, LA 71360
    e Center for Bottomland Hardwoods Research, USDA-Forest Service, Southern Research Station, P.O. Box 227, Stoneville, MS 38776
    f Center for Forested Wetlands Research, USDA-Forest Service, Southern Research Station, 2730 Savannah Highway, Charleston, SC 29414


Decomposition of site-specific litter mixtures was monitored for 100 wk in four floodplain communities: (i) a mixed oak community along the Cache River in central Arkansas, (ii) a sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua L.)–cherrybark oak (Quercus falcata var. pagodaefolia Ell.) community along Iatt Creek in central Louisiana, (iii) a sweetgum-swamp tupelo [Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora (Walt.) Sarg.] community, and (iv) a laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia Michx.) community along the Coosawhatchie River in southeastern South Carolina. Soil temperature, hydroperiod, and litter quality (C:N, C:P, N:P, lignin:N) were used to interpret differences in the rates of mass loss and nutrient dynamics. After 100 wk, litter mixtures retained 33, 18, 8, and 5% of original mass on the Cache, Coosawhatchie (laurel oak community), Coosawhatchie (sweetgum–swamp tupelo community), and Iatt floodplains, respectively, and these differences appeared related to hydroperiod. Decay rates were comparable to rates reported in similar floodplain environments. Net mineralization of both N and P was observed after 100 wk, but both elements accumulated in litter mixtures periodically. Differences in hydroperiod were observed among the four floodplain communities and decomposition of and nutrient mineralization from litter among them appeared to be inversely related to the number and duration of flood events. Litterbags containing leaf litter of a single-species (i.e., cherrybark oak) were also monitored on three of the four sites to compare decay rates and nutrient dynamics with the litter mixtures. On the Cache River floodplain, slower decay of poorer quality cherrybark oak litter suggested that litter quality drove decomposition under similar edaphic conditions.

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Copyright © 2001. Soil Science SocietyPublished in Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J.65:1334–1347.