Exotic Pinus carbaea causes soil quality to deteriorate on former abandoned land compared to an indigenous Podocarpus plantation in the tropical forest area of southern China.
Soil properties under an exotic plantation (Pinus caribaea) and an indigenous plantation (Podocarpus imbricatus) were compared with adjacent secondary forests and abandoned land in the tropical forest areas of Jianfengling National Nature Reserve in Hainan province, southern China. The surface soil (0-0.2 m) under Pi. caribaea has higher bulk density, lower soil organic carbon, total N, total K, available N, microbial biomass carbon, and smaller soil microbial communities (as indicated by soil Biolog profiles) than under Po. imbricatus. Both land use types showed negative cumulative soil deterioration index (DI) compared to secondary forests. However, compared to abandoned land (DI=-262), the soil quality of Po. imbricatus showed improvement (DI=-194) while that of Pi. caribaea showed deterioration (DI=-358). These results demonstrated that these exotic pine plantations can significantly and negatively influence soil properties. By contrast, our results showed that adoption of indigenous species in plantations, or natural regeneration, can improve soil quality.