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Title: Former land use affects the nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations and biomass of forest herbs
Authors: Baeten, Lander ×
Verstraeten, Gorik
De Frenne, Pieter
Vanhellemont, Margot
Wuyts, Karen
Hermy, Martin
Verheyen, Kris #
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Pub.
Series Title: Plant Ecology vol:212 issue:5 pages:901-909
Abstract: The colonization rates of understorey plants into forests growing on former agricultural land differ
remarkably among species. Different dispersal and recruitment largely account for the contrasting
colonization rates, but different effects of the soil legacies of former agricultural land use on plant
performance may also play a role. Seven herbaceous forest species were sampled in paired postagricultural
and ancient forest stands to study whether land‐use history has an effect on the
aboveground nutrient concentrations (N, P and N:P ratios) and biomass of forest herbs and, if so,
whether slow and fast colonizing species respond differently. Results showed that P concentrations
were significantly affected by former land use with higher concentrations in the post‐agricultural
stands. N concentrations were unaffected and N:P ratios were significantly higher in the ancient
stands. Nutrient concentrations varied considerably among species, but the variation was unrelated
to their colonization capacity. Six out of the seven species had higher biomass in the post‐agricultural
stands relative to the ancient stands, and the degree to which the species increased biomass was
positively related to their colonization capacity, i.e., the fast colonizing species showed the strongest
increase. Such differential responses to past land use may contribute to the contrasting colonization
capacity of forest plants. Land‐use history thus affected both the nutrient concentrations and
biomass of forest herbs, and only the biomass response was related to colonization capacity.
ISSN: 1385-0237
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Division Forest, Nature and Landscape Research
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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