Canadian Forest Service Publications
Nitrogen mineralization and decomposition in forest floors in adjacent plantations of western red cedar, western hemlock, and Douglas-fir. 1994. Prescott, C.E.; Preston, C.M Canadian Journal of Forest Research 24: 2424-2431.
Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 4017
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To determine if western red cedar (Thuja plicata Donn) litter contributes to low N availability in cedar-hemlock forests, we measured concentrations of N and rates of net N mineralization in forest floors from single-species plantations of cedar, western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg.), and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco) on the same site in coastal British Columbia. Concentrations of total and extractable N and rates of net N mineralization during laboratory incubations were lowest in the cedar forest floor and highest in Douglas-fir. Less C was mineralized in the cedar forest floor during incubation, and the amount of N mineralized per unit C was least in cedar. Rates of mass loss of foliar litter of the three species were similar during the first 50 weeks of a 70-week laboratory incubation, but cedar lost mass more quickly during the final 20 weeks. Rates of net N mineralization in the forest floors were significantly correlated with the initial percent N, C/N, % Klason lignin, and lignin/N of foliar litter. Foliar litter of cedar had lower concentrations of N and greater proportions of alkyl C (based on 13C NMR spectroscopy) than Douglas-fir litter. These characteristics of cedar litter may contribute to low N availability in cedar-hemlock forest floors. Concentrations of alkyl C (waxes and cutin) may be better than lignin for predicting rates of mass loss and N mineralization from litter.