Substitution of Norway spruce for Douglas-fir: changes of soil microbial activities as climate change induced shift in species composition - a case study.
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii [Mirb.] Franco) is the most common utilized introduced tree species in the temperate zone, planted in many European countries. Also, in the Czech Republic it represents the most planted exotic species as well. Its planted area exceeds 6,000 ha and represents 0.25% of the forest area of the country. In the last years, this species is supposed as convenient substitution for declining Norway spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst.) stands under current climatic change (extreme drought, bark beetle outbreak). The changed species composition affects also soil dynamic processes, including litter decomposition and transformation. In the presented study, the respiration rate and nitrification intensity were compared in the stand parts dominated by Norway spruce and Douglas-fir in comparable site conditions (410 m a.s.l., 650 mm, 8°C, gleyic Luvisol, fresh oak-fir site with Oxalis acetosella, age 97 years). Analyses were performed in laboratory conditions by standard methods determining actual (basal) and potential respiration activity and intensity of ammonia and nitrate ion production. Admixture of Douglas-fir considerably intensified decomposition activities (soil respiration) and profoundly increased the nitrification rate in the surface humus and uppermost mineral soil layer - Ah horizon. Increased interest in the Douglas-fir silviculture needs increased care for forest soil dynamics with respect of nitrogen balance.