SREL Reprint #1857




Cation Dynamics in Bottomland Hardwood Forest Litter


School of Forestry, 108 M. While Smith Hall, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama 36849

KBN Engineering, 1034 Northwest 57th Street, Gainesville, Florida 32605


Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Drawer E, Aiken, South Carolina 29802 and
Department of Botany, University of Georgia, Athens 30602


Flows of K, Ca, Mg, Fe and Mn cations through forest litter were measured for nonflooded conditions at four locations within South Carolina bottomland hardwood forests. Through fall precipitation was sampled before and after it passed through forest litter suspended in funnels for eleven months, including the dormant season immediately after leaf fall plus the following growing season. A significant seasonal pattern in throughfall was detected in Ca only. Seasonal trends in litter leachate were found for all cations except Fe; K and Mn decreased from dormant to growing season while Ca and Mg increased. Significant differences among locations were found for all throughfall cations except Fe and for three net leachate cations-Ca, Mg and Fe. Throughfall was the predominant source of K, litter was the primary source of Mg, and throughfall and litter inputs were approximately equal for Ca, Mn and Fe. The presence of ants in three of the microcosms resulted in greatly increased leaching of K, Fe and Mn. Concentrations of all cations in leachate were more variable seasonally than concentrations in throughfall or the upper 15 cm of soil. These data suggest that when flooding is absent, litter in bottomland hardwood forests is not a net accumulator of K, Ca, Mg, Mn and Fe; however, differences in the rate at which these cations are leached may influence seasonal availability of nutrients for plant uptake.


SREL Reprint #1857


Jones, R.H., D.S. Segal, and R.R. Sharitz. 1994. Cation dynamics in bottomland hardwood forest litter. The American Midland Naturalist 131:248-256.


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