Experimental Precipitation Reduction Slows Down Litter Decomposition but Exhibits Weak to No Effect on Soil Organic Carbon and Nitrogen Stocks in Three Mediterranean Forests of Southern France - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Forests Year : 2022

Experimental Precipitation Reduction Slows Down Litter Decomposition but Exhibits Weak to No Effect on Soil Organic Carbon and Nitrogen Stocks in Three Mediterranean Forests of Southern France

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Abstract

Forest ecosystems are some of the largest carbon (C) reservoirs on earth. Pinus halepensis Mill., Quercus ilex L. and Quercus pubescens Willd. represent the dominant tree cover in the Mediterranean forests of southern France. However, their contributions to the French and global forest C and nitrogen (N) stocks are frequently overlooked and inaccurately quantified and little is known about to what extent the ongoing climate change can alter these stocks. We quantified the soil organic C (SOC) and N (SN) stocks in Mediterranean forests dominated by these tree species and evaluated to what extent an experimental precipitation reduction (about −30% yearly) affects these stocks and the litter decomposition efficiency. Litter mass losses were 55.7, 49.8 and 45.7% after 24 months of decomposition in Q. ilex, Q. pubescens and P. halepensis forests, respectively, and were 19% lower under drier climatic conditions. The SOC stocks were 14.0, 16.7 and 18.5 Mg ha−1 and the SN stocks were 0.70, 0.93 and 0.88 Mg ha−1 in Q. ilex, Q. pubescens and P. halepensis forests, respectively. The shallowness and stoniness of these Mediterranean forests could explain these limited stocks. By distinguishing the organic from the organo–mineral layer, we showed 74% less SOC in the organic layer of the P. halepensis forest under drier conditions, while no difference was detected in the organo–mineral layer or in the two oak forests. This last finding deserves further investigation and points out the necessity to distinguish the organic from the organo–mineral layer to detect the first impacts of climate change on SOC stocks.
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Dates and versions

hal-03843626 , version 1 (08-11-2022)

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Attribution - CC BY 4.0

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Mathieu Santonja, Susana Pereira, Thierry Gauquelin, Elodie Quer, Guillaume Simioni, et al.. Experimental Precipitation Reduction Slows Down Litter Decomposition but Exhibits Weak to No Effect on Soil Organic Carbon and Nitrogen Stocks in Three Mediterranean Forests of Southern France. Forests, 2022, 13 (9), pp.1485. ⟨10.3390/f13091485⟩. ⟨hal-03843626⟩
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