Project properties

Title Improving forest ecosystems on acidic, degraded soils using tree species with rich litter
Group Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group
Project type thesis
Credits in overleg
Supervisor(s) Philippine Vergeer (WUR) & Jan den Ouden (WUR)
Examiner(s) Prof. Dr. F.J.J.M (Frans) Bongers
Contact info;
Begin date 2019/01/07
End date
Description Improving forest ecosystems on acidic, degraded soils using tree species with rich litter. A multi-disciplinary study on litter effects and nutrient cycling.

In order to preserve key species form forest ecosystems restoration of acidic, nutrient poor forests are urgently needed. Recent studies indicate that key factors in restoration are soil processes. In the Dutch nutrient poor and acidic forests the dominant tree species are oak, and pine which produce acidic, poorly degradable litter. As a result, litter accumulates in these soils and soil fauna decreases. In addition, buffering nutrients such as calcium decrease. Tree species that produce easily degradable and nutrient rich litter such as Tilia and Prunus may help to improve soil conditions by increasing buffering in the top soil, increasing moisture content and reducing acidity. Bosgroep Zuid Nederland has set up large scale experiments to test the hypothesis that tree species that produce rich litter improve soil conditions and ultimately help restoring the forest ecosystems. Planting tree species with rich litter is a promising restoration measure but is in need of optimisation in order to implement this measure on large scales in the Netherlands.

In this study Prunus effects on Oaks will be studied in relation to reference situations (pure oak). This comparison will serve as a model for the mixing of species with rich litter in nutrient poor forest ecosystems.

Specific research questions:
Which nutrients and how much are present in the litter of Prunus and Oak?
How much litter is produced by the trees and how does this translate to nutrients of acidity?
What are the effects of the litter on soils in terms of nutrient conditions and other important soil parameters such as biota?
Used skills
Requirements FEM-30306 Forest Ecology and Forest Management; REG-31806 Ecological Methods I