Litter decomposition and nutrient dynamics in Aleppo pine forests under different tree densities and climatic conditions

Organic matter was removed from planted forests in Israel during the past decades management measures, such as thinning, pruning and grazing. Removal of biomass and plant litter might deplete nutrients in those ecosystems, thus reducing productivity and carbon sequestration. Plant litter provides additional ecosystem services, such as reduction of soil erosion, attenuation of extreme microclimatic soil condition, and conservation of biodiversity through habitat variation. Our understanding of the impact of plant litter and its decay on pine forests in Israel is basic at most. Moreover, there is a lack of information concerning effects of climate, stand conditions, and litter quality (chemical composition) on litter decomposition in dryland forests. The objective of this study is to assess the impact of climatic conditions and tree density on litter decomposition, nutrient dynamics and soil microclimate in 45-year old Aleppo pine forests. We study decomposition and chemical change of leaf litter and wood chips in long-term ecological research (LTER) plots of a semi-arid and a sub-humid forest over different seasons and years. In addition, soil moisture beneath manipulated litter layers, and nutrient dynamics in litter and soil are monitored. Findings of this project will assist in developing sustainable management strategies for enhancing ecosystem services in dryland forests.


Daniel Gliksman (PhD student)

Partner organizations:
KKL – Jewish National Fund