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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2010

Relationships Between Tree and Soil Properties in Picea abies and Pinus sylvestris Forests in Sweden

Ladanai, Svetlana; Ågren, Göran; Olsson, Bengt


The exchange of elements between plants and the soil in which they are growing creates reciprocal control of their element composition. Within plants, the growth rate hypothesis from ecological stoichiometry implies a strong coupling between C, N, and P. No similar theory exists for predicting relationships between elements in the soil or relationships between plants and the soil. We used a data set of element concentrations in needles and humus of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Norway spruce (Picea abies) forests in Sweden to investigate the extent to which relationships between elements (C, N, P, S, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, Al) can be observed within and between plants and soils. We found element composition to be more strongly controlled in needles than in humus. Elements that are covalently bound were also more strongly controlled, with no apparent differences between macro- and micronutrients. With the exception of N/C, there were surprisingly few relationships between elements in needles and humus. We found no major differences between the two tree species studied, but investigations of additional forest types are needed for firm conclusions. More control over element composition was exercised with respect to N than C, particularly in needles, so it might be advantageous to express nutrient concentrations relative to N rather than on a dry weight or carbon basis. Variations in many ecosystem variables appeared to lack ecological significance and thus an important task is to identify the meaningful predictors.


conifers; ecosystem variables; element composition control; stoichiometry; humus; needles

Published in

2010, Volume: 13, number: 2, pages: 302-316
Publisher: SPRINGER

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      • UKÄ Subject classification

        Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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