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Classification of humus forms in Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests ecoregion (Iran): Comparison between two classification methods

Bayranvand, Mohammad, Kooch, Yahya, Alberti, Giorgio
Catena 2018 v.165 pp. 390-397
Acer, Alnus subcordata, Carpinus betulus, Fagus sylvatica subsp. orientalis, altitude, canopy, climate, deciduous forests, ecoregions, forest stands, humus, moder, temperate forests, temperature, trees, Iran
Temperate forest productivity and functioning may be explained by complex interactions among tree canopy composition, topographic conditions, climate, morphogenetic identification and classification of humus forms. In this study, we report the main morphological feature of humus profiles classified according to both American (AHCM) and European (EHCM) classifications under the six most common forest stands in northern Iran, i.e., Alnus subcordata (AS), Acer velutinum (AV), Fagus orientalis-Carpinus betulus (FO-CB), Carpinus betulus (CB), Fagus orientalis (FO), and Fagus orientalis-Carpinus betulus-Parrotia persica (FO-CB-PP). Organic and organic-mineral layers samples were collected in 61 permanent plots (20 × 20 m) within a 30 × 30 cm metal frame, for identification. Our result showed that Mull was the dominant humus system according to both classifications, whereas Mor (AHCM) and Amphi (EHCM) were the less frequent humus systems in the study area. Mull and Amphi (EHCM) were dominant at the lowest slope and altitude under AS canopy cover; Moder was usually present at intermediate slope and altitude under FO-CB and FO-CB-PP; while Mor was the dominant form at intermediate slopes and highest altitudes under FO and FO-CB. Due to the temperature changes and litter decomposition, altitude seems to be the best predictor of humus type and litter thickness. Our findings also indicate that EHCM could be preferred in the identification and classification of humus forms in temperate deciduous forests in Iran.