Case studies of red alder and Sitka alder in Douglas-fir plantations : nitrogen fixation and ecosystem production Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/4m90dz51n

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  • Seven case studies of 11 ecosystems were used to examine the effects of nitrogen-fixing alders in Douglas-fir plantations. The first case study quantified nitrogen (N) fixation and aboveground net primary production in a young Sitka alder [Alnus sinuata (Regel) Rydb.] ecosystem. At 5 yr of age, the N fixation (C₂2H₂ reduction) rate of 35 kg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹ was near the middle of the reported range for this shrubby species. The second case study compared N fixation rates of Sitka alder and red alder (Alnus rubra Bong.) on the same sites. These species exhibited similar nodule activities and had similar nodule:leaf biomass ratios of 7-8%. A mixture of Sitka alder and Douglas-fir [Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco] was estimated to have a current N fixation rate of 20 kg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹ based on acetylene reduction; N accretion measurements indicated an average N fixation rate of 30 kg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹ for 23 yr. A mixture of red alder and Douglas-fir on the same site had a current N fixation rate of 130 kg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹ based on acetylene reduction, with an N accretion rate of 65 kg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹ for 23 yr. The third case study evaluated the effects of Sitka alder on Douglas-fir growth and nutrition, and on ecosystem production and litterfall. Current Douglas-fir stem growth was 40% greater with Sitka alder, and aboveground ecosystem net primary production was increased 70% with the alder. Litterfall nutrient content was 3 to 7 times greater under the mixed canopy. The fourth and fifth case studies looked at 23 yr-old mixtures of red alder and Douglas-fir in comparison with pure Douglas-fir, on an infertile site and on a fertile site. Red alder had little effect on Douglas-fir size or growth rate on the infertile site, but ecosystem net primary production was tripled. Conversely, net primary production was not increased by red alder on the fertile site, and Douglas-fir size and growth were reduced. The final two case studies evaluated: (1) the conclusions reached in the previous case studies for applicability to red alder/Douglas-fir mixtures in general, and (2) trends in production with stand development up to age 50. These case studies were consistent with the general conclusions of site fertility interactions with red alder/Douglas-fir mixtures. With further stand development, red alder continued to enhance ecosystem production and Douglas-fir growth on infertile sites, with opposite effects on fertile sites. Sitka alder demonstrated a high potential usefulness for interplanting with Douglas-fir, and red alder greatly boosted ecosystem production on infertile sites. Both species merit further development as tools for forest management on N deficient sites.
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