iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


The effects of post-pasture woody plant colonization on soil and aboveground litter carbon and nitrogen along a bioclimatic transect

T La Mantia   , L Gristina, E Rivaldo, S Pasta, A Novara, J Rühl

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 6, Issue 5, Pages 238-246 (2013)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor0811-006
Published: Jun 13, 2013 - Copyright © 2013 SISEF

Research Articles

We investigated the effects of woody plant colonization of abandoned pastures on soil and litter organic carbon (C) stocks and nitrogen (N) content along a bioclimatic transect in a semi-arid environment (Sicily, Italy). Soil samples were taken in three successional stages (grazed pasture, shrubland, forest) within each of three bioclimates (supramediterranean - “supra”, mesomediterranean - “meso”, thermomediterranean - “thermo”). Organic C and N in litter and soil (0-10 cm and 10-30 cm depth) were determined, as well as soil bulk density. Especially at 0-10 cm depth, changes in C and N contents along successional stages differed among bioclimates. Soil organic carbon (SOC) stock decreased from pasture to shrubland and increased from shrubland to forest in “supra”, increased from pasture to shrubland and then remained stable in “thermo”, and was stable in “meso”. Soil C/N ratio decreased with succession in “supra”, showed no significant trend in “meso”, and increased with succession in “thermo”. Litter C stock increased with succession in “meso”, increased from pasture to shrubland and decreased from shrubland to forest in “thermo”, and increased from pasture to shrubland and then remained stable in “supra”. Litter C/N ratio increased in “thermo” and “supra” from pasture to shrubland and from shrubland to forest, but did not change significantly with succession in “meso”. The different trends in SOC among bioclimates may be caused by changes in the importance of litter input, litter decay rate and mineralization. Successional changes in “meso” and “supra” appeared to be most affected by litter quality, while those in “thermo” appeared to be strongly influenced by limited litter decay due to low soil moisture and high temperature.


SOC Change, C/N Ratio, Secondary Succession, Mediterranean

Authors’ address

T La Mantia
L Gristina
E Rivaldo
S Pasta
A Novara
J Rühl
Dipartimento Scienze Agrarie e Forestali, University of Palermo, v.le delle Scienze, Ed. 4, I-90128 Palermo (Italy)

Corresponding author



La Mantia T, Gristina L, Rivaldo E, Pasta S, Novara A, Rühl J (2013). The effects of post-pasture woody plant colonization on soil and aboveground litter carbon and nitrogen along a bioclimatic transect. iForest 6: 238-246. - doi: 10.3832/ifor0811-006

Academic Editor

Giorgio Matteucci

Paper history

Received: Oct 05, 2012
Accepted: Mar 17, 2013

First online: Jun 13, 2013
Publication Date: Oct 01, 2013
Publication Time: 2.93 months

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