عنوان مقاله [English]
Soil, as habitat substrate, helps to regulate important ecosystem processes, including nutrient absorption, organic matter decomposition. Water availability and the well-being of humanity are directly linked to soil functions. On the other hand, vegetation with different species and ages have significant effects on the status of the surface soil layer through the creation of diverse environmental conditions and the production of different organic substances. However, few studies have been conducted in relation to the effect of the age of afforestation and the type of vegetation on the soil status. Considering that a practical, complete and effective assessment of soil condition should be the result of simultaneous measurement of physical, chemical and biological indicators, hereupon, the present study aimed to investigate the effect of 20-year old poplar stand, 20-year old maple stand, 10-year old poplar stand, 10-year old maple stand and rangeland cover, in plot 3 of Delak-Khil series of wood and paper forests in Mazandaran province, on the organic layer properties and physical, chemical and biological (including microbial activities, enzyme activity, earthworm population and biomass, the number of soil nematodes and root biomass) properties of the surface soil layer.
Materials and Methods
For this purpose, some parts of the study area were selected which are continuous with each other and have minimum height difference from the sea level, minimum change in percentage and direction of slope. Then, in order to take samples from the organic and surface layer of the soil, three one-hectare plots with distances of at least 600 meters were selected in each study habitats. From each of the one-hectare plots, 5 leaf litter samples and 5 soil samples (30 cm × 30 cm by 10 cm depth) were taken to the laboratory for analysis . In total, 15 litter samples and 15 soil samples were collected from each of the habitats under study. One part of the soil samples was passed through a 2 mm sieve after air-drying to perform physical and chemical tests, and the second part of the samples was kept at 4 °C for biological tests. One-way analysis of variance tests was used to compare the characteristics of organic layer and soil between the studied habitats. In the following, Duncan's test (P>0.05) was used to compare the average parameters that had significant differences among different habitats.
Results and Discussion
The results of this research showed that afforested stands with different ages and pasture cover had a significant effect on the characteristics of the organic and surface soil layers. The results indicated the improvement of most of the characteristics of the organic and surface soil layer in the afforested stands, especially the 20-year old afforestation compared to the rangeland cover. The organic matter produced in 20-year old afforestation, especially with poplar species, had a higher quality (high nitrogen and carbon content and low carbon-to-nitrogen ratio) compared to organic matter produced in 10-year old afforestation and pasture cover. Most of the physicochemical characteristics of the soil under 20-year old afforestation were in a better condition than the other studied habitats. Also, according to the results of this research, the highest values of biological characteristics such as microbial activity, enzyme activity, and the population of earthworms and nematodes were observed in the subsoil of 20-year old afforestation especially with poplar species. Based on the results obtained from the principal component analysis, the higher values of nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and potassium content of the organic layer led to the improvement of soil fertility characteristics, microbial activities, enzyme activity, earthworm population, the number of soil nematodes and root biomass, respectively, under poplar and maple plantation for 20 years, meanwhile, 10-year old plantation, especially with maple species, and rangeland with the production of organic materials with high carbon content and carbon to nitrogen ratio, resulted in the reduction of organic matter decomposition (greater thickness of organic layer), and consequently the reduction of the mentioned properties of the surface soil layer.
According to the findings of this research, it can be concluded that plantation with poplar species, especially after 20 years, had a higher ability to improve the soil condition compared to maple, which can be considered by managers in future afforestation. Also, with the passage of time, the presence of tree covers (poplar and maple) had a higher priority than rangeland cover in improving the fertility status and suitable edaphological conditions of the soil.
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