Soil organic matter dynamics under decaying wood in a subtropical wet forest: effect of tree species and decay stage.
Decaying wood is an important structural and functional component of forests: it contributes to generate habitat diversity, acts as either sink or source of nutrients, and plays a preponderant role in soil formation. Thus, decaying wood might likely have measurable effects on chemical properties of the underlying soil.We hypothesized that decaying wood would have a stronger effect on soil as decomposition advances and that such effect would vary according to wood quality. Twenty logs from two species with contrasting wood properties (Dacryodes excelsa Vahl. and Swietenia macrophylla King) and at two different decay stages (6 and 15 years after falling) were selected, and soil under and 50 cm away from decaying logs was sampled for soil organic matter (SOM) fractions [NaOH-extractable and water-extractable organic matter -(WEOM)] and properties (WEOM aromaticity). NaOH-extractable C and WEOM were higher in the soil influenced by 15-year-old logs, while the degree of aromaticity of WEOM was higher in the soil influenced by the 6-year-old logs. Decaying logs did influence properties of the underlying soil with differing effects according to the species since there was more NaOH-extractableCin the soil associated to D. excelsa logs and more WEOM in the soil associated to S. macrophylla older logs. It is proposed that such effects occurred through changes in the relative quantity and quality of different SOM fractions, as influenced by species and advancement in decomposition. Through its effect on SOM and nutrient dynamics, decaying wood can contribute to the spatial heterogeneity of soil properties, and can affect process of soil formation and nutrient cycling.