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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-110
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-110
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 13 May 2019

Research article | 13 May 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

Understory vegetation relationships with soil element contents in a northern boreal forest ecosystem near a phosphate massif

Laura Matkala1, Maija Salemaa2, and Jaana Bäck1 Laura Matkala et al.
  • 1Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research / Forest Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, P.O. Box 27, 00014, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Latokartanonkaari 9, 00790 Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. We studied the relationship of forest understory vegetation with nutrient contents of soil and tree leaves near Sokli phosphate ore in northern Finland, where the soil contains naturally high variation in phosphorus (P) contents. At most study plots boreal dwarf shrubs, bryophytes and lichen formed a dense mat under a mixture of sparsely growing Pinus sylvestris, Picea abies and Betula pubescens. However, some plots were dominated by B. pubescens and had a higher variety and number of forbs and grasses in the understory. The total P content in the soil humus layer explained the abundance and species composition of the vegetation slightly better than the total nitrogen content. The spatial variation in contents of soil elements was high both between and within plots, emphasizing the heterogeneity of soil. High contents of P in the humus layer (max. 2600 mg kg−1) were measured from the birch-dominated plots. As the P contents of birch leaves and leaf litter were also rather high (2580 mg kg−1 and 1280 mg kg−1, respectively), this may imply that the leaf litter of birch forms an important source of P to the soil.

Laura Matkala et al.
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Laura Matkala et al.
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Matkala_et_al_soil_vegetation L. Matkala, M. Salemaa, and J. Bäck https://doi.org/10.23728/b2share.615b46018cef40fe8c9d9245c56f0547

Laura Matkala et al.
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Short summary
We studied how forest understory vegetation correlates with nutrient contents of soil and tree leaves at a northern boreal site near a phosphate massif. Interestingly, the phosphorus (P) content of humus layer correlated with vegetation better than the nitrogen (N) content. Usually N is considered more important in boreal forests. The plots with high P content of humus had birch as the dominating tree species. We think birch leaf litter may be an important source of P to the plants at our site.
We studied how forest understory vegetation correlates with nutrient contents of soil and tree...
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