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The interactions between tree-herb layer diversity and soil properties in the oriental beech (Fagus orientalis Lipsky) stands in Hyrcanian forest

Bakhshandeh-Navroud, Behzad, Abrari Vajari, Kambiz, Pilehvar, Babak, Kooch, Yahya
Environmental monitoring and assessment 2018 v.190 no.7 pp. 425
Fagus sylvatica subsp. orientalis, correlation, ecophysiology, forests, herbaceous plants, humus, microbial biomass, microorganisms, mixed stands, soil organic carbon, soil properties, soil sampling, trees, Iran
This study investigated the interactions between tree-herb layer diversity and some physico-chemical and eco-physiological characteristics of soil in natural oriental beech stand in western Guilan, Iran. The data were collected from nine research sites (50 m × 50 m) which were described as a gradient from pure oriental beech (Fagus orientalis Lipsky) stands to mixed stands with up to nine deciduous tree species (n = 27) in Hyrcanian forest. Herbaceous plants were sampled within ten 1 m × 1 m sub-plots in two plots of 400 m² which were installed randomly in each research site. Composite soil samples were taken at five positions in each research site. We found that the increase in tree diversity in mature oriental beech stands brought about an increase in microbial biomass carbon, soil carbon content, and the ratio of microbial biomass carbon to the organic carbon (Cₘᵢc/Cₒᵣg). Increased soil organic carbon raised microbial biomass carbon through creating suitable environment for microorganisms. The findings also indicated that the ratio of microbial biomass carbon to the organic carbon (Cₘᵢc/Cₒᵣg) increased as a quantitative indicator of soil carbon dynamics that finally benefits soil fertility of mixed oriental beech stands compared to pure oriental beech stands. The results showed that humus layer and litter thickness were negatively correlated with tree layer richness. Generally, it can be stated that maintaining a mixture of tree layer species in natural oriental beech stands results in an increase in richness and diversity values of herb plants as well as carbon content and microbial biomass carbon of soil.