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Impact of forest disturbances on decomposition, mineralization and soil nutrient release in the Northern Limestone Alps

Project Leader
Berger Torsten Winfried, Project Leader
Duration:
04.07.2016-03.01.2022
Programme:
Einzelprojekte
Type of Research
Basic Research
Staff
BOKU Research Units
Institute of Forest Ecology
Funded by
Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF) , Sensengasse 1, 1090 Wien, Austria
Abstract
Mountain ecosystems are especially vulnerable to climate change, since these areas will experience stronger temperature fluctuations than the global climate. As a consequence, the intensity and frequency of natural forest disturbance in Central Europe is set to increase, raising serious questions over the future provision of key ecosystem services. Stand-replacing forest disturbance (e.g., windthrow, insect infestations, and harvest) can cause abrupt and long-lasting changes in ecosystem structure and function over huge spatial areas, but empirical data on disturbance impacts on nutrient cycling is lacking, particularly in the context of the Limestone Alps. In these mountains, shallow soils with only small pools of exchangeable nutrients can frequently be met on pure limestone or dolomite and nutrient cycling is restricted to the organic soil layer and the vegetation. Thus, the interruption of the nutrient uptake by the arboreal vegetation after disturbance may cause accelerated nutrient losses with seepage water, associated with detrimental effects on nutrition and productivity status of the regenerating forest. A potential disturbance-driven nutrient loss may add to nitrate levels in drinking water, already critical from the viewpoint of human health.

We propose to study disturbance impacts on decomposition, mineralization and soil nutrient release at forested manipulation sites in Upper Austria, which will be artificially disturbed after a short pre-treatment period. Replacement disturbances will be mimicked by clearcut with and without deadwood left on site, and by girdling.

We hypothesize that i) forest disturbances affect nutrient release and retention and may cause severe depletions of nutrient pools, ii) rates of decomposition and mineralization (processes, releasing nutrients) are different between leaf litter, root litter, hol organic- and mineral soil, and iii) a net soil carbon source or sink can be attributed to individual biogeochemical processes and soil depths as function of the specific forest disturbance regime.

After measuring nutrient losses in the field via input-output balances (solute fluxes via throughfall and soil solution) over 2.5 years (and relating them to nutrient soil and biomass pools), we will explain how disturbance affects nutrient cycling. Field incubations of leaf- and root litter in mesh bags, as well as holorganic and mineral soil in polyethylene bags, will be used to identify possible sources of nutrient release. Finally, we try to calculate a relatively short term soil carbon balance.

Our goals are to i) develop guidelines for post-disturbance management of nutrient release and retention after ii) elucidating the impact of forest disturbances on soil biogeochemical processes, and iii) estimating net soil C sequestration under varying disturbance regimes. Investigating sites with and without deadwood left on site, the project will reveal how post-disturbance management can influence ecosystem nutrient loss.
Keywords
Forest ecology;
Publications

** Mayer, M; Rewald, B; Matthews, B; Sandén, H; Rosinger, C; Katzensteiner, K; Gorfer, M; Berger, H; Tallian, C; Berger, TW; Godbold, DL; Soil fertility relates to fungal-mediated decomposition and organic matter turnover in a temperate mountain forest..

New Phytol. 2021; 231(2):777-790 WoS PubMed PUBMED Central FullText FullText_BOKU

** Turtscher, S; Grabner, M; Berger, TW Reconstructing Soil Recovery from Acid Rain in Beech (Fagus sylvatica) Stands of the Vienna Woods as Indicated by Removal of Stemflow and Dendrochemistry.

WATER AIR SOIL POLL. 2019; 230(2), 30 WoS PubMed FullText FullText_BOKU

Bischofer, L; Berger, TW; Godbold, DL; Mayer, M (2019): Do Norway spruce, Douglas fir and European larch stands differ in litter decomposition and belowground carbon storage?.
[25th IUFRO World Congress 2019 - Forest Research and Cooperation for Sustainable Development, Curitiba, Brazil, 29.09.2019 - 05.09.2019]

, Pesquisa Florestal Brasileira, 39, 651-651 FullText

Bischofer, L.; Berger, T.W.; Mayer, M. (2019): Litter decomposition and soil carbon storage in Norway spruce, Douglas fir, and European larch stands. [Poster]
[European Geosciences Union EGU General Assembly 2019, Vienna, Austria, 07.04.2019 - 12.04.2019]

In: EGU, Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol 21, EGU2019-17094 FullText

Berger, TW (2019): Waldstörungen und Nährstoffkreisläufe (Projekt: Auswirkungen von Waldstörungen auf Zersetzung, Mineralisation und Bodennährstofffreisetzung in den Nördlichen Kalkalpen).

ÖBF Forschungsbericht 2018, Österreichische Bundesforste AG, Purkersdorf, Seite 51 FullText

Hipfinger, C; Berger TW (2019): Streuzersetzung und Bodenemissionen (Masterarbeit: Die Auswirkung der Streuzersetzung auf Bodenemissionen von Kohlendioxid, Methan und Lachgas in gestörten und ungestörten Buchenwäldern).

ÖBF Forschungsbericht 2018, Österreichische Bundesforste AG, Purkersdorf, Seite 24 FullText

Türtscher, S; Berger, TW (2019): Saurer Regen: Erholung der Waldböden (Dissertation: Erholung der Waldböden vom Sauren Regen in Buchenbeständen des Wienerwaldes).

ÖBF Forschungsbericht 2018, Österreichische Bundesforste AG, Purkersdorf, Seite 22 FullText

Bischofer, L.M.; Berger, T.W.; Mayer, M. (2018): Linking litter decomposition to soil carbon stocks under Norway spruce, Douglas fir and European larch.
[48th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland GfÖ 2018 - Ecology – Meeting the Scientific Challenges of a complex World, Vienna, Austria, 10.09.2018 - 14.09.2018]

, Verhandlungen der Gesellschaft für Ökologie, 47/48, 129-129

Bischofer, L.M; Berger, T.W; Mayer, M (2018): Linking litter decomposition to soil carbon stocks under non-native and native tree species. [Poster]
[3rd Student Conference, Department of Forest and Soil Sciences, 2018, Vienna, Austria, 25.05.2018]

In: Rewald, B (Ed.), 3. Student Conference, Department of Forest and Soil Sciences, 2018 – Book of Abstracts, pp 46. University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria; ISBN: 978-3-900932-56-5 FullText

Hipfinger, C.; Berger, T.W (2018): Soil emissions of CO2, CH4 and N2O of disturbed and undisturbed beech stands, affected by decomposing foliage litter.
[3rd Student Conference, Department of Forest and Soil Sciences, 2018, Vienna, Austria, 25.05.2018]

In: Rewald, B. (Ed.), 3. Student Conference, Department of Forest and Soil Sciences, 2018 – Book of Abstracts, pp 16. University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria; ISBN: 978-3-900932-56-5 FullText

Vorträge

Berger TW (2019): Auswirkungen von Waldstörungen auf Zersetzung und Bodennährstofffreisetzung.

Waldökosystemforschung in den Kalkalpen - Workshop, SEP 19, 2019, Molln, Oberösterreich

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