Skip to Main Content
Historical land use and stand age effects on forest soil properties in the Mid-Atlantic USAuthor(s): Ian Yesilonis; K. Szlavecz; Richard Pouyat; D. Whigham; L. Xia
Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 370: 83-92.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
Download Publication (1023.0 KB)
DescriptionThe conversion of agriculture lands to forest has been occurring in parts of North America for decades. The legacy of management activity during this transition is reflected in soil physical and chemical properties years after abandonment. This study was conducted at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Maryland, USA, to determine land-use history and forest age effects on soil nutrients, carbon, pH, and bulk density. Soils in young and old successional forests and forests with no evidence of historical disturbance were sampled. The young forest stands were abandoned from agriculture 50-70 years ago and the old forest stands had been abandoned from agriculture or grazing 120-150 years ago. The oldest forest stands had no recorded history of disturbance even though it is likely they were at least disturbed by tree removal or grazing of animals in the colonial era. Young forest soils had higher concentrations of Mg, Ca, NO3 and a higher pH than old, which may be an age effect. The old forest soils that had been abandoned from agriculture and grazing had higher bulk density and lower C content than undisturbed stands indicating a land-use effect. In the stands that were formally agriculture there was evidence of erosion, indicated by a Bt horizon closer to the surface. The most evident difference between stands of different land-use history was the absence of a well-developed O horizon, which we attribute to the presence of earthworms. Land-use legacy set the forest ecosystem in a different trajectory of soil evolution.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, email@example.com if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationYesilonis, I.; Szlavecz, K.; Pouyat, R.; Whigham, D.; Xia, L. 2016. Historical land use and stand age effects on forest soil properties in the Mid-Atlantic US. Forest Ecology and Management. 370: 83-92.
KeywordsForest, Land-use change, Agriculture, Forest age, Nutrients
- Microbial community variation and its relationship with nitrogen mineralization in historically altered forests
- Land use legacy effects on structure and composition of subtropical dry forests in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
- Performance and population dynamics of a native understory herb differ between young and old forest stands in the Southern Appalachians
XML: View XML