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Fine root and soil nitrogen dynamics during stand development following shifting agriculture in Northeast India

Singha, D and Brearley, FQ and Tripathi, SK (2020) Fine root and soil nitrogen dynamics during stand development following shifting agriculture in Northeast India. Forests, 11 (12). pp. 1-12. ISSN 1999-4907

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Abstract

Nitrogen (N) dynamics during changes in land use patterns in tropical forests may profoundly affect fine root dynamics and nutrient cycling processes. Variations in fine root biomass and soil N dynamics were assessed in developing stands of increasing ages following shifting agriculture in Mizoram, Northeast India, and comparisons were made with a natural forest stand. Concentrations of soil available N (NH4-N and NO3-N) and the proportion of NH4-N in total available N increased with stand age. The N-mineralization rate also increased with stand age whilst the proportion of nitrification relative to ammonification declined during succession. Fine root biomass and N-mineralization increased, and available N decreased during the monsoon season while this pattern was reversed during the winter season. A greater proportion of fine roots were <0.5 mm diameter in the younger sites, and turnover of fine roots was more rapid in the developing stands compared to the natural forest. Fine root biomass was correlated positively with N-mineralization rate and soil water content. Thus, it can be concluded that the fine root growth was aided by rapid N-mineralization, and both fine root growth and N-mineralization increase as stands redevelop following shifting cultivation disturbance.

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