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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-401
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-401
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 23 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 23 Oct 2019

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

Soil carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry (C : N : P) in relation to conifer species productivity and nutrition across British Columbia perhumid rainforests

John Marty Kranabetter1, Ariana Sholinder2, and Louise de Montigny3 John Marty Kranabetter et al.
  • 1British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, P.O. Box 9536, StnProvGovt, Victoria, B.C., V8W 9C4, Canada
  • 2Centre for Forest Biology, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 3020, StnCSC, Victoria, B.C., V8W 3N5, Canada
  • 3British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, P.O. Box 9512, StnProv Govt, Victoria BC, V8W 9C2, Canada

Abstract. Temperate rainforest soils of the Pacific Northwest are often carbon (C) rich and encompass a wide range in fertility reflecting varying nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) availability. Soil resource stoichiometry (C : N : P) may provide an effective measure of site nutrient status and help refine species-dependent patterns in forest productivity across edaphic gradients. We described the nature of soil organic matter for mineral soil and forest floor substrates across very wet (perhumid) rainforest sites of southwestern Vancouver Island (Canada), and employed soil element ratios as covariates in a long-term planting density trial to test their utility in defining basal area growth response of four conifer species. There were strong positive correlations in mineral soil C, N and organic P (Po) concentrations, and close alignment in C : N and C : Po both among and between substrates. Stand basal area after five decades was best reflected by soil C : N but included a significant species-soil interaction. The conifers with ectomycorrhizal fungi had diverging growth responses displaying either competitive (Picea sitchensis) or stress-tolerant (Tsuga heterophylla, Pseudotsuga menziesii) attributes, in contrast to a more generalist response by an arbuscular mycorrhizal tree (Thuja plicata). Despite the consistent patterns in organic matter quality we found no evidence via foliar nutrition for increased P availability with declining element ratios as we did for N. The often high C : Po ratios (as much as 3000) of these soils may reflect a stronger immobilization sink for P than N, which, along with ongoing sorption of PO4, could limit the utility of C : Po or N : Po to adequately reflect P supply. The dynamics and availability of soil P to trees, particularly as Po, deserves greater attention as many perhumid rainforests were co-limited by N and P, or, in some stands, possibly P alone.

John Marty Kranabetter et al.
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Soil carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry (C:N:P) in relation to conifer species productivity and nutrition across British Columbia perhumid rainforests J. M. Kranabetter, A. Sholinder, and L. M. de Montigny https://datadryad.org/stash/share/_cUlm3iDS48i7bB8SyXJHfuyvG5qxfwsh-koxMUCl1k

John Marty Kranabetter et al.
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Short summary
Temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest often have productive soils with high levels of organic matter. We describe the nitrogen and phosphorus attributes of this soil organic matter in relation to the growth of four conifer species. Sitka spruce thrived on high nitrogen soils, more so than the other conifer species, but productivity overall is likely constrained by phosphorus deficiencies. Study results will guide wood production, carbon sequestration and conservation priorities.
Temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest often have productive soils with high levels of...
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