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Relationship between the weathering of clay minerals and the nitrification rate: A rapid tree species effect

Mareschal L., Turpault M.P., Bonnaud P., Ranger J.. 2013. Biogeochemistry, 112 (1-3) : p. 293-309.

DOI: 10.1007/s10533-012-9725-0

We compared the properties of the clay mineral fraction and the composition of soil solutions in a Fagus sylvatica coppice (native forest) and four adjacent plantations of Pseudotsuga menziesii, Pinus nigra, Picea abies and Quercus sessiliflora planted in 1976. The results revealed changes of clay fraction properties due to tree species effect. Clay samples from Douglas fir and pine stands differ when compared to other species. Twenty-eight years after planting, we observed the following changes: a more pronounced swelling after citrate extraction and ethylene glycol solvation, a higher CEC and a smaller poorly crystallised aluminium content. All these changes affecting the clay fraction agreed well with soil solution analyses which revealed high NO3 ?, H+ and Al concentrations under Douglas fir and pine. These changes were explained by a strong net nitrification under Douglas fir and pine stands when compared with other tree species. The higher NO3 ? concentrations in soil solutions should be linked to the presence, type and activity of ammonia-oxiding bacteria which are likely influenced by tree species. The production of NO3 ? in excess of biological demand leads to a net production of hydrogen ion and enhances the dissolution of poorly crystallised Al-minerals. Secondary Al-bearing minerals constituted the principal acid-consuming system in these soils. As a consequence, the depletion of interlayer spaces of hydroxyinterlayered minerals increases the number of sites for exchangeable cation fixation and increases CEC of the clay fraction. The dissolution of Al oxy-hydroxides explain the increase in Al concentrations of soil solutions under Douglas fir and pine stands when compared to other species. Nitrate and dissolved aluminium were conjointly leached in the soil solutions. A change in environmental conditions, like an introduction of tree species, enough modifies soil processes to induce significant changes in the soil mineralogical composition even over a period of time as short as some tens of years. Generally, mineral weathering has been considered to be very slow and unlikely to change over tens of years, resulting in few studies capable of detecting changes in mineralogy. This study appears to have detected changes in clay mineralogy during a period of 28 years after the planting of forest species. Our study represents a single location with a limited block design, but causes us to conclude that the observed changes could be widely representative. Where available, archived samples should be utilized and long-term experiments set up so that similar changes can be tested for and detected using more robust designs. The plausible hypothesis we present to explain apparent changes in clay mineralogy has strong relevance to the sustainable management of land.

Mots-clés : minéral argileux; propriété physicochimique du sol; minéralogie; acidification; dégradation du sol; nitrification; sol de forêt; plantation forestière; pinus nigra; picea abies; quercus petraea; fagus sylvatica; pseudotsuga menziesii; bourgogne; france

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