Above- and belowground organic matter storage and production in a tropical pine plantation and a paired broadleaf secondary forest


The distribution of tree biomass and the allocation of organic matter production were measured in an 11-yr-old Pinus caribaea plantation and a paired broadleaf secondary forest growing under the same climatic conditions. The pine plantation had significantly more mass aboveground than the secondary forest (94.9 vs 35.6 t ha-1 for biomass and 10.5 vs 5.0 t ha-1 for litter), whereas the secondary forest had significantly more fine roots (⩽2 mm diameter) than the pine plantation (10.5 and 1.0 t ha-1, respectively). Standing stock of dead fine roots was higher than aboveground litter in the secondary forest. In contrast, aboveground litter in pine was more than ten times higher than the dead root fraction. Both pine and secondary forests had similar total organic matter productions (19.2 and 19.4 t ha-1 yr-1, respectively) but structural allocation of that production was significantly different between the two forests; 44% of total production was allocated belowground in the secondary forest, whereas 94% was allocated aboveground in pine. The growth strategies represented by fast growth and large structural allocation aboveground, as for pine, and almost half the production allocated belowground, as for the secondary forest, illustrate equally successful, but contrasting growth strategies under the same climate, regardless of soil characteristics. The patterns of accumulation of organic matter in the soil profile indicated contrasting nutrient immobilization and mineralization sites and sources for soil organic matter formation.


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