Canadian Forest Service Publications

Decomposition rates of bryophytes in managed boreal forests: influence of bryophytes species and forest harvesting. 2010. Fenton, N.J.; Bergeron, Y.; Paré, D. Plant and Soil 336: 499-508.

Year: 2010

Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 31924

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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The slow decomposition rate of boreal forest floor bryophytes contributes both to maintaining high soil C reserves as well as affecting conditions for tree growth by maintaining excessively high soil water content, cooling the soil and slowing nutrient cycles. In this study, mass loss of three bryophyte species (Pleurozium schreberi, Sphagnum capillifolium, S. fuscum) was measured in unharvested, partial cut and low-retention cut forest blocks. Mesh decomposition bags containing the three species and wood sticks were placed at two depths in colonies of either P. schreberi or S. capillifolium (environment) in the three harvest treatments and retrieved after two growing seasons. Mass loss was primarily related to substrate type (P. schreberi > S. capillifolium > wood sticks > S. fuscum) and secondarily to depth. Harvest treatment and environment (P. schreberi or S. capillifolium) only weakly affected sphagna mass loss. The weak effect of harvest treatment suggests that conditions created by low retention cuts do not to stimulate decomposition in this system and are not important enough to stimulate carbon loss, or to counteract paludification. On the other hand, the strong effect of bryophyte type indicates that conditions affecting bryophyte colonization and succession are of great importance in driving carbon and nutrient cycles.