Canadian Forest Service Publications

Nitrogen acquisition and competitive ability of Kalmia angustifolia L., paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.) and black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.) seedlings grown on different humus forms. 1997. Bradley, R.L.; Titus, B.D.; Fyles, J.W. Plant and Soil 195: 209-220.

Year: 1997

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 4917

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free)

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Two species of boreal tree seedlings, paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.) and black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.), and the ericaceous shrub Kalmia angustifolia L. were grown in pots with humus from a birch-dominated site and two spruce-Kalmia sites. Root systems interacted with humus form in controlling soil-N cycling as well as energy and nutritional deficiencies of soil microorganisms. In general, Kalmia seedlings affected microbial dynamics and N cycling differently than birch and spruce seedlings did. Birch and spruce seedlings reduced gross N mineralization and immobilization rates, soil mineral-N pools and the amounts of NH4+-N accreted on buried cation exchange resins in all three soils. Compared to birch and spruce seedlings, the growth of Kalmia resulted in significantly higher gross N mineralization rates, soil mineral-N pools and resin-NH4+- accretion in soil from the fertile birch site. Gross N immobilization rates in all soils were generally higher with Kalmia than with spruce or birch seedlings. All three species of seedlings acquired N from the birch site soil, whereas only Kalmia seedlings acquired N from the two spruce-Kalmia site soils. Relative to control treatments, the amount of N mineralized anaerobically increased in the birch-site soil and decreased in the poor spruce-Kalmia site soil with all three species of seedlings. All seedlings increased the microbial biomass in the birch-site soil. Kalmia humus and Kalmia root systems increased microbial energy-deficiency and decreased microbial nutritional deficiency compared to the other humus and seedlings used. Results are discussed in terms of each species' nutrient acquisition mechanism and its competitive ability during secondary succession.