Many trees fell during Hurricanes Hugo (1989) and Georges (1998) in Puerto Rico. A debris removal experiment suggested that coarse woody hurricane debris slowed canopy recovery by fueling microbial nitrogen immobilization. We analyzed C, N, microbial biomass C and root length in paired soil samples taken under versus 20-50 cm away from large trunks of two species felled by Hugo and Georges three times during wet and dry seasons during the two years after Georges. Data on soil P and other nutrients have not yet been analyzed. Soil microbial biomass, C and N were higher under than near logs of both age cohorts. Frass from wood boring beetles may induce the early effects. Root length was greater under logs at 0-10 cm depth during the dry season, and away from logs in the wet season, but varied independently of microbial biomass. Thus decaying wood can provide resources exploited by tree roots. Percent soil C and N were significantly higher under than near logs in both the 0-10 and 10-20 cm samples. Microbial biomass C varied significantly among seasons at 0-10 cm depth but differences between positions (under vs away) were only suggestive. Surface soil on the upslope side of the logs had significantly more N and microbial biomass, likely from accumulation of leaf litter above the logs on steep slopes. This study shows that C and N accumulate significantly more in soil under than near decaying logs, even in logs that had only decayed for 7 months, and thus contributes to soil heterogeneity. Tree roots track and exploit resource and nutrient hotspots as they change locations between seasons, so the soil heterogeneity in soil fertility is important for forest productivity.
Additional Project roles:
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SAMPLE LOCATION : IITF Chemistry Laboratory. Not stored N/A.
STORAGE SITES (of data files): Currently at Sabana Field Research Station, Mycology. Will be transferred to IITF permanent file storage