Evergreen and deciduous plants are widely expected to have different impacts on soil nitrogen (N) availability because of differences in leaf litter chemistry and ensuing effects on net N mineralization (Nmin). We evaluated this hypothesis by compiling published data on net Nmin rates beneath co-occurring stands of evergreen and deciduous trees. The compiled data included 35 sets of co-occurring stands in temperate and boreal forests. Evergreen and deciduous stands did not have consistently divergent effects on net Nmin rates; net Nmin beneath deciduous trees was higher when comparing natural stands (19 contrasts), but equivalent to evergreens in plantations (16 contrasts). We also compared net Nmin rates beneath pairs of co-occurring genera. Most pairs of genera did not differ consistently, i.e., tree species from one genus had higher net Nmin at some sites and lower net Nmin at other sites. Moreover, several common deciduous genera (Acer, Betula, Populus) and deciduous Quercus spp. did not typically have higher net Nmin rates than common evergreen genera (Pinus, Picea). There are several reasons why tree effects on net Nmin are poorly predicted by leaf habit and phylogeny. For example, the amount of N mineralized from decomposing leaves might be less than the amount of N mineralized from organic matter pools that are less affected by leaf litter traits, such as dead roots and soil organic matter. Also, effects of plant traits and plant groups on net Nmin probably depend on site-specific factors such as stand age and soil type.
Kevin E. Mueller, Sarah E. Hobbie, Jacek Oleksyn, Peter B. Reich, and David M. Eissenstat 2012. Do evergreen and deciduous trees have different effects on net N mineralization in soil? Ecology 93:1463–1472.
Mueller, Kevin E.; Hobbie, Sarah E.; Oleksyn, Jacek; Reich, Peter B.; Eissenstat, David M..
Do evergreen and deciduous tree differ in their effects on soil nitrogen availability.
Ecological Society of America.
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