Aspen Bibliography


Soil C:N:P dynamics during secondary succession following fire in the boreal forest of central Canada

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Forest Ecology and Management



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Measures of soil nutrient availability such as concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus ([N] and [P]) are important indicators of terrestrial productivity. Optimal plant growth and ecosystem functioning are also strongly correlated with nutrient ratios in soils. Long-term trends in soil [C], [N], [P], and their stoichiometric ratios during secondary succession in the fire-driven boreal forest remain unclear. We used replicated 7- to 209-year chronosequences to examine the influence of stand age and overstory composition on [C], [N], and [P] and their ratios in the forest floor, surface (0–15 cm), and subsurface (15–30 cm) mineral soil in the boreal forest of central Canada. In the forest floor, [C] and [N] increased rapidly during the first three decades following fire, after which they fluctuated, but remained larger than in the youngest stands. Surface soil [C] and [N] increased from young to intermediate-aged stands, but decreased in the oldest stands. Subsurface [C] and [N] followed a similar trend, but was higher in the 7-year-old stands. Forest floor [P] followed a gradual, linear increase throughout stand development but of smaller magnitude than [C] and [N]. The temporal pattern of [P] in both mineral soil layers was lower in the 33-year-old stands of all overstory types, suggesting that P resources may be outpaced by their demand during this highly competitive stage of advanced stem exclusion during forest succession. In the forest floor and surface soil, C:N differed not only with stand age but also with overstory type, due to higher C:N in intermediate-aged conifer stands. Forest floor C:P and N:P were higher in the 33- to 146-year-old stands in all overstory types and soil layers, but particularly so in the conifer stands. In the mineral layers, C:N, C:P, and N:P all followed a similar trend. Our results demonstrate the important influence of stand age, overstory composition (as influenced by succession), and soil depth on forest soil nutrient dynamics in boreal forest ecosystems.