Canopy cover effects on mass loss, and nitrogen and phosphorus dynamics from decomposing litter in oak and pine stands in northern Lower Michigan

Document Type


Publication Date



Patterns of litter decomposition and nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) release in relation to various levels of canopy cover were examined using litterbags placed on the forest floor of northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) and red pine (Pinus resinosa Ait.) stands in northern Lower Michigan, USA. A series of experimental plots consisted of four levels of canopy cover treatments, i.e. clearcut, 25% (50% during first sampling year), 75%, and uncut. Mass loss from decomposing leaves was higher for oak leaves in red oak stands (approximately 60% loss of the original mass) than for pine needles in red pine stands (approximately 40% loss of the original mass) during the 2 year study period. Leaf mass loss in the clearcut red oak treatment was significantly higher than in the uncut red oak treatment. In contrast, no canopy cover effects on litter mass loss were found in red pine stands. Nitrogen concentrations in decomposing litter increased during the 2 year period in all canopy cover treatments in both stand types, but they did not differ significantly among canopy cover treatments. These results indicate that various levels of red oak and red pine canopy removal generally have a minor impact on litter decomposition and nutrient (N and P) release during the first 2 years following canopy manipulation, except in red oak clearcuts. © 1996 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Forest Ecology and Management