iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Dynamics of humus forms and soil characteristics along a forest altitudinal gradient in Hyrcanian forest

Mohammad Bayranvand (1), Moslem Akbarinia (1), Gholamreza Salehi Jouzani (2)   , Javad Gharechahi (3), Giorgio Alberti (4)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 14, Issue 1, Pages 26-33 (2021)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor3444-013
Published: Jan 10, 2021 - Copyright © 2021 SISEF

Research Articles

Humus forms are good indicators of environmental conditions and thus important in forest ecological processes. Altitudinal gradients are considered as natural laboratory for evaluating soil ecological processes and humus form distribution. The objective of this study was to evaluate the macromorphology of humus forms along an altitudinal gradient (0-2000 m a.s.l.) covered with plain forest, mixed and pure forests and forest-grassland ecotone, in Alborz Mountains in northern Iran. In total, 225 humus profiles were evaluated. Forest stand variables including tree density, basal area, crown density, and height, forest floor and soil physico-chemical properties along with biological features were measured. We found that altitudinal gradients influence both humus forms distribution and soil properties but with different mechanisms. While soil properties (i.e., temperature, pH, CaCO3, soil N content, soil C/N and microbial biomass N) were significantly correlated with altitude, the forest floor properties were more influenced by tree species composition. Particularly, the abundance of Mull was decreased in plain mixed forests compared to mountain pure forests, whereas the frequency of Amphi was increased. Moreover, Oligomull and Leptoamphi were abundant in mixed beech forests, while Eumacroamphi, Eumesoamphi and Pachyamphi were only observed in pure beech forests. Such a distribution influenced soil fertility where higher values of nitrogen (N), microbial biomass nitrogen (MBN) and pH were observed at lower altitudes under mixed forests compared to pure forests at higher altitudes.


Altitude Gradient, Plant-humus-soil Relationships, Humus Systems, Soil Microbial Biomass

Authors’ address

Mohammad Bayranvand 0000-0002-1642-3425
Moslem Akbarinia
Faculty of Natural Resources and Marine Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, 46417-76489, Noor, Mazandaran (Iran)
Gholamreza Salehi Jouzani 0000-0001-5419-8794
Microbial Biotechnology Department, Agricultural Biotechnology Research Institute of Iran (ABRII), Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization (AREEO), Fahmideh Blvd., P.O. Box:31535-1897, Karaj (Iran)
Javad Gharechahi 0000-0001-7018-4085
Human Genetics Research Center, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran (Iran)
Giorgio Alberti 0000-0003-2422-3009
Department of Agri-food, Environmental and Animal Sciences, University of Udine, v. delle Scienze 206, 33100 Udine (Italy)

Corresponding author

Gholamreza Salehi Jouzani


Bayranvand M, Akbarinia M, Salehi Jouzani G, Gharechahi J, Alberti G (2021). Dynamics of humus forms and soil characteristics along a forest altitudinal gradient in Hyrcanian forest. iForest 14: 26-33. - doi: 10.3832/ifor3444-013

Academic Editor

Maurizio Ventura

Paper history

Received: Apr 09, 2020
Accepted: Nov 02, 2020

First online: Jan 10, 2021
Publication Date: Feb 28, 2021
Publication Time: 2.30 months

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