Seasonal Nutrient Dynamics of Foliage and Litterfall on Walker Branch Watershed, a Deciduous Forest Ecosystem

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A detailed twelve-month study of litterfall, live foliage biomass, and seasonal nutrient (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium) dynamics in tree components was performed for forest types on Walker Branch Watershed, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Biomass and nutrient content of foliage, reproductive parts and branches were examined for ten dominant trees in order to assess the relative importance of litterfall in returning nutrients to the forest floor in four different forest types. Litterfall, measured in pine, pine-oak-hickory, oak-hickory, and mesophytic hardwood forests, was separated into three components (leaves, reproductive parts, and branches). Seasonal comparisons of those forest types were made ... continued below

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Grizzard, T. Henderson, G.S. Clebsch, E. January 1, 1999.

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A detailed twelve-month study of litterfall, live foliage biomass, and seasonal nutrient (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium) dynamics in tree components was performed for forest types on Walker Branch Watershed, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Biomass and nutrient content of foliage, reproductive parts and branches were examined for ten dominant trees in order to assess the relative importance of litterfall in returning nutrients to the forest floor in four different forest types. Litterfall, measured in pine, pine-oak-hickory, oak-hickory, and mesophytic hardwood forests, was separated into three components (leaves, reproductive parts, and branches). Seasonal comparisons of those forest types were made for biomass and nutrient inputs for each component and for total litterfall. Each forest types was characterized by total annual input to the forest floor of biomass and individual nutrients for each component as well as total litterfall. Canonical analysis was performed on the yearly totals to test for significant differences among the forest types. Live foliage from the ten predominant species of trees on the watershed, determined by order of total basal area, was analyzed for biomass, nutrient concentration, and changes in nutrient content through the growth season. Seasonal trends for these variables, including the ranking of nutrient concentrations for spring versus fall, were discussed in relation to differential growth, translocation, and leaching factors. Most of the litterfall in all forest types (77-85%) was in leaves with fall maximum. Reproductive parts (8-14% with spring and fall maxima) and branches (8-11% with no seasonal trend) contributed the remainder. The ranking of nutrient content in litterfall was similar in spring and fall, except for the replacement of nitrogen by calcium in autumn as the predominant nutrient (followed by K > Mg > P > Na). Comparisons were made between weight and nutrient content for living leaves and leaf litter input in litterfall. The ranking of total nutrient content per leaf in spring foliage was N > K > Ca > Mg > P > Na. The autumn foliage ranking was the same as that for autumn leaf litterfall (Ca > N > K > Mg > P > Na), the change being due to differing behavior of the particular nutrients (translocation, biomass dilution and removal by leaching). In the four forest types analyzed, significant differences occurred in the biomass and individual nutrients recycled to the forest floor. The greatest litterfall and amounts of nitrogen input occurred in the pine forest type. Oak-hickory forests had the greatest litter inputs of magnesium and potassium. Calcium return was greatest in the mesophytic hardwood forest. No marked differences in the amounts of sodium and phosphorus return in the forest floor occurred among mesophytic hardwoods and oak-hickory forest types, which were consistently higher than pine and pine-oak-hickory forest values.

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  • Other Information: PBD: 1 Jan 1999

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-5254
  • Grant Number: AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/814435 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 814435
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc738222

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  • January 1, 1999

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  • Oct. 18, 2015, 6:40 p.m.

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  • Jan. 4, 2017, 2:01 p.m.

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Grizzard, T. Henderson, G.S. Clebsch, E. Seasonal Nutrient Dynamics of Foliage and Litterfall on Walker Branch Watershed, a Deciduous Forest Ecosystem, report, January 1, 1999; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc738222/: accessed October 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.