Influence of different forest system management practices on leaf litter decomposition rates, nutrient dynamics and the activity of ligninolytic enzymes: A case study from Central European forests

Witoon Purahong, Danuta Kapturska, Marek J. Pecyna, Elke Schulz, Michael Schloter, François Buscot, Martin Hofrichter, Dirk Krug̈er

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations

Abstract

Leaf litter decomposition is the key ecological process that determines the sustainability of managed forest ecosystems, however very few studies hitherto have investigated this process with respect to silvicultural management practices. The aims of the present study were to investigate the effects of forest management practices on leaf litter decomposition rates, nutrient dynamics (C, N, Mg, K, Ca, P) and the activity of ligninolytic enzymes. We approached these questions using a 473 day long litterbag experiment. We found that age-class beech and spruce forests (high forest management intensity) had significantly higher decomposition rates and nutrient release (most nutrients) than unmanaged deciduous forest reserves (P<0.05). The site with near-to-nature forest management (low forest management intensity) exhibited no significant differences in litter decomposition rate, C release, lignin decomposition, and C/N, lignin/N and ligninolytic enzyme patterns compared to the unmanaged deciduous forest reserves, but most nutrient dynamics examined in this study were significantly faster under such near-to-nature forest management practices. Analyzing the activities of ligninolytic enzymes provided evidence that different forest system management practices affect litter decomposition by changing microbial enzyme activities, at least over the investigated time frame of 473 days (laccase, P<0.0001; manganese peroxidase (MnP), P = 0.0260). Our results also indicate that lignin decomposition is the rate limiting step in leaf litter decomposition and that MnP is one of the key oxidative enzymes of litter degradation. We demonstrate here that forest system management practices can significantly affect important ecological processes and services such as decomposition and nutrient cycling.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere93700
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of different forest system management practices on leaf litter decomposition rates, nutrient dynamics and the activity of ligninolytic enzymes: A case study from Central European forests'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this