Earth hummocks are small cryogenic mounds, covered by grass, closely spaced in grassland or wetlands. Hummock microtopography establishes specific microclimatic conditions, with small-scale variations in soil thermal properties and water regimes, which influence biogeochemical cycles. These properties, coupled with different litter decomposability, may cause variations on soil physical and chemical properties and pedogenesis, as well as a selective distribution of plant species. The work has been carried out at the LTER site of Tellinod (Torgnon, Aosta Valley, NW, Italy). The site is characterized by a Nardus stricta subalpine hummocky grassland located at 2100 masl, which shows the dominance of Nardus on hummocks and a prevalence of dicotyledons in interhummocks (i.e. the depressions between consecutive hummocks). Such distribution indicates that earth hummock pattern was reflected in soil properties. In order to confirm this hypothesis, we analyzed and compared soil pedogenesis and topsoil characteristics between hummocks and interhummocks. In addition, litter bags were incubated in hummock and interhummock positions to investigate litter decomposition rate as related to microtopography and plant species and its effects on topsoil edaphic properties. The results confirm that hummocky topography significantly influences topsoil properties, pedogenesis and vegetation distribution, with large differences between hummocks and interhummocks. The hummocky soil can be fully classified as Podzol, based on both the morphological and chemical diagnostic properties; however, morphological and chemical evidences indicate that the degree of podzolization differs significantly under hummocks and interhummocks. In addition, the results verify a faster decomposition of dicotyledons in the nutrient-richer interhummock topsoils compared to the podzolized hummocks positions, and an overall slower decomposition rate of Nardus litter. All these factors contribute to the creation and conservation of a unique pedo-environment in this subalpine grassland.

Hummocks affect soil properties and soil-vegetation relationships in a subalpine grassland (North-Western Italian Alps) / E. Pintaldi, M.E. D'Amico, M.C. Siniscalco, E. Cremonese, L.R. Celi, G. Filippa, M. Prati, M. Freppaz. - In: CATENA. - ISSN 0341-8162. - 145(2016 Oct), pp. 214-226. [10.1016/j.catena.2016.06.014]

Hummocks affect soil properties and soil-vegetation relationships in a subalpine grassland (North-Western Italian Alps)

M.E. D'Amico
Secondo
;
2016

Abstract

Earth hummocks are small cryogenic mounds, covered by grass, closely spaced in grassland or wetlands. Hummock microtopography establishes specific microclimatic conditions, with small-scale variations in soil thermal properties and water regimes, which influence biogeochemical cycles. These properties, coupled with different litter decomposability, may cause variations on soil physical and chemical properties and pedogenesis, as well as a selective distribution of plant species. The work has been carried out at the LTER site of Tellinod (Torgnon, Aosta Valley, NW, Italy). The site is characterized by a Nardus stricta subalpine hummocky grassland located at 2100 masl, which shows the dominance of Nardus on hummocks and a prevalence of dicotyledons in interhummocks (i.e. the depressions between consecutive hummocks). Such distribution indicates that earth hummock pattern was reflected in soil properties. In order to confirm this hypothesis, we analyzed and compared soil pedogenesis and topsoil characteristics between hummocks and interhummocks. In addition, litter bags were incubated in hummock and interhummock positions to investigate litter decomposition rate as related to microtopography and plant species and its effects on topsoil edaphic properties. The results confirm that hummocky topography significantly influences topsoil properties, pedogenesis and vegetation distribution, with large differences between hummocks and interhummocks. The hummocky soil can be fully classified as Podzol, based on both the morphological and chemical diagnostic properties; however, morphological and chemical evidences indicate that the degree of podzolization differs significantly under hummocks and interhummocks. In addition, the results verify a faster decomposition of dicotyledons in the nutrient-richer interhummock topsoils compared to the podzolized hummocks positions, and an overall slower decomposition rate of Nardus litter. All these factors contribute to the creation and conservation of a unique pedo-environment in this subalpine grassland.
Alps; Litter decomposition; Nardus stricta; Pedogenesis; Podzol; Topsoil chemistry; Earth-Surface Processes
Settore AGR/14 - Pedologia
Settore GEO/04 - Geografia Fisica e Geomorfologia
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/873510
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