Brantley, Steven T , Young, Donald R .
Spatial and seasonal variation in leaf litter production and nitrogen content of Morella cerifera (L.) Small (Myricaceae) across a barrier island chronosequence.
LEAF litter production and nitrogen content for the nitrogen-fixing, evergreen shrub Morella cerifera were determined at four sites representing thickets 10, 20, 40, and 60 years old along a barrier island chronosequence. Leaf litter was collected bimonthly for one year to determine spatial and seasonal variation in litter production rates. Annual leaf litter production varied significantly across the island from 270.4 ± 32.0 g m-2 yr-1 in the oldest thicket to 678.4 ± 27.1 g m-2 yr-1 in the 20-year-old thicket, and varied significantly throughout the year with highest litter production in spring for all four thickets. In comparison, there was no significant spatial or seasonal variation in litter nitrogen content for M. cerifera on Hog Island. Mean nitrogen content was 1.40 ± 0.11 %. Using these data, we determined that the total nitrogen contribution was as high as 9.5 g m-2 yr-1 in some sites indicating that these dense monospecific thickets may rapidly enrich nutrient poor coastal soils. All four sites demonstrated highest litter production in late spring coinciding with leaf-out. The large input of litter and associated nitrogen may be an important factor contributing to the high productivity of shrub thickets by annually enhancing soil nitrogen content in this nutrient poor environment. This study provides further evidence that M. cerifera is an important species in the development of coastal soils, especially in nitrogen enhancement. -DU
Log in to add this item to your schedule
1 - Virginia Commonwealth University, Department of Biology, P.O. Box 842012, Richmond, Virginia, 23284, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Date: Tuesday, August 1st, 2006
Time: 8:15 AM