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Nutrient cycling in a clonal stand of Eucalyptus and an adjacent savanna ecosystem in Congo : 2. Chemical composition of soil solutions

Laclau J.P., Ranger J., Nzila J.D.D., Bouillet J.P., Deleporte P.. 2003. Forest Ecology and Management, 180 : p. 527-544.

DOI: 10.1016/S0378-1127(02)00645-X

The dynamics of nutrients were compared over three years in a clonal Eucalyptus plantation and in a native savanna in Congo. This paper focuses on the changes in the chemical composition of solutions during their transfer through the soil in both ecosystems. The main characteristics of the soil (Ferralic Arenosol) were similar in the two ecosystems, and the low inter-stand variability allowed reliable comparisons of the influence of afforestation on the soil solution chemistry. Rainfall amounted to about 1400 mm per year during the experimental period. In both ecosystems, an enrichment was observed for most elements during the transfer of solutions through the foliage, but N uptake occurred. Concentrations of H' and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in solutions increased through the litter layer in both stands. In the Eucalyptus ecosystem, a quick uptake of nutrients by a dense root mat inside the forest floor likely explained why the concentrations of gravitational waters were not enhanced markedly for 'base cations', despite the mineralization of high amounts of nutrients during the litter decay. Soil solutions were collected by zero tension lysimeters (ZTL) at a depth of 15 cm, but these lysimeters were inefficient at collecting gravitational solutions beyond this depth. By contrast, tension lysimeters (TL) maintained at a suction of -60 kPa, collected soil solutions at the depths of 15, 50 cm, 1, 2, 3, 4 m in both ecosystems and 6 m in the plantation. In the topsoil of both stands, the nutrient concentration decreased sharply when the time of residence of solutions increased. This pattern highlighted the crucial role of the inputs by throughfall, stemflow and mineralization of the litter layer for the nutrition of these stands. A combination of high nutrient requirements of the stands and low availability of exchangeable cations in this highly weathered soil might account for the extremely low nutrient concentrations in solutions collected by TL, regardless of the depth.

Mots-clés : eucalyptus; nutrition des plantes; cycle biogéochimique; clone; Écosystème; savane; république démocratique du congo

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