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Data from: Atlantic Forest topsoil nutrients can be resistant to disturbance and forest clearing

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Safar, Nathália Vieira Hissa; Magnago, Luiz Fernando Silva; Rolim, Samir Gonçalves; Schaefer., Carlos Ernesto Gonçalves Reynauld (2019). Data from: Atlantic Forest topsoil nutrients can be resistant to disturbance and forest clearing [Dataset]. Dryad.


Human impacts can affect soil properties through erosion and leaching when vegetation is removed, the ecosystem functions and, consequently, the capacity of a forest to regenerate. Here, we determine the effects of forest disturbance and succession on selected soil chemical properties using two different approaches, before-after control-impact (BACI) and space-for-time (SFT) substitution, and the threatened Atlantic Forest biome as model. We assessed with BACI the long-term (37-yr) effects of clear-cutting on soil properties by comparing data from two topsoil surveys (1978-2017) divided in two treatments: a preserved old-growth forest (control) and an adjacent forest that was experimentally cleared with full tree removal (clear-cut). We examined with SFT the relationship between stand age and soil properties using soil data from three old-growth and 13 second-growth forests ranging from 7 to 33 yr. We found no significant differences between treatments for any soil property nor significant changes in phosphorus, potassium and calcium + magnesium over time. In contrast, pH increased and aluminium decreased in both areas. No relation was found between forest age and most of soil properties, with the exception of potassium which returned to old-growth forest levels after 20 yr of natural succession, and pH. BACI indicated that deforestation of old-growth forest caused no significant effects on soil chemical properties after 37 yr of regeneration. SFT demonstrated that soil properties did not change significantly during forest regeneration on formerly disturbed lands. Our findings indicate that natural nutrient-depleted lowland forests were overall resistant to deforestation followed by passive regeneration at landscape-scale.

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