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Data from: Contrasting conifer species productivity in relation to soil carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry of British Columbia perhumid rainforests

Citation

Kranabetter, John Marty; Sholinder, Ariana; de Montigny, Louise (2020), Data from: Contrasting conifer species productivity in relation to soil carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry of British Columbia perhumid rainforests, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.0gb5mkkwr

Abstract

Temperate rainforest soils of the Pacific Northwest are often carbon (C) rich and encompass a wide range in fertility reflecting varying nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) availability.  Soil resource stoichiometry (C:N:P) may provide an effective measure of site nutrient status and help refine species-dependent patterns in forest productivity across edaphic gradients.  We determined mineral soil and forest floor nutrient concentrations across very wet (perhumid) rainforest sites of southwestern Vancouver Island (Canada), and employed soil element ratios as covariates in a long-term planting density trial to test their utility in defining basal area growth response of four conifer species.  There were strong positive correlations in mineral soil C, N and organic P (Po) concentrations, and close alignment in C:N and C:Po both among and between substrates.  Stand basal area after five decades was best reflected by mineral soil and forest floor C:N but in either case included a significant species-soil interaction.  The conifers with ectomycorrhizal fungi had diverging growth responses displaying either competitive (Picea sitchensis) or stress-tolerant (Tsuga heterophylla, Pseudotsuga menziesii) attributes, in contrast to a more generalist response by an arbuscular mycorrhizal tree (Thuja plicata).  Despite the consistent patterns in organic matter quality we found no evidence for increased foliar P concentrations with declining element ratios (C:Po or C:Ptotal) as we did for N.  The often high C:Po ratios (as much as 3000) of these soils may reflect a stronger immobilization sink for P than N, which, along with ongoing sorption of PO4-, could limit the utility of C:Po or N:Po to adequately reflect P supply.  The dynamics and availability of soil P to trees, particularly as Po, deserves greater attention as many perhumid rainforests were co-limited by N and P, or, in some stands, possibly P alone.