European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 138, Issue 2, pp 353–361 | Cite as

Vertical distribution of soil carbon in boreal forest under European beech and Norway spruce

  • Yngvild RansedokkenEmail author
  • Johan Asplund
  • Mikael Ohlson
  • Line Nybakken
Original Paper


Past forest management decisions have resulted in European beech being replaced with Norway spruce across Europe. Previous studies have revealed variances in soil carbon (C) under different dominating tree species. Yet, there is a scarcity of knowledge about how beech and spruce differ in impact on forest soil C in boreal regions, where beech has its northern distribution limit. We have therefore compared soil C in a natural beech forest (Be) with that of two spruce forests: one planted on former beech forest (SpBe) and the other on former spruce forest (Sp), in South-East Norway. Analyses of biochemical parameters and fungal biomass were performed along fine-scaled soil profiles, covering both the organic and mineral layers. We found no significant difference between the forests when comparing estimates of total C stocks per area. However, throughout the soil profile, the distribution of soil C in Be varied significantly from SpBe, while Sp was intermediate. The distribution of fungal biomass along the soil profile in Be varied significantly from the two other forests. Hence, fungal biomass may drive the observed differences. Soil C, nitrogen (N), and C/N ratios were forest type and soil depth dependent, whereas forest type had an effect on the vertical distribution of condensed tannins and fungal biomass. Our results suggest that the presence of beech or spruce as the dominant tree species in the studied area has an effect on the vertical distribution of soil properties, while there is no major difference when comparing the whole soil profile.


Boreal forest Soil carbon Fagus sylvatica Picea abies Fungal biomass Condensed tannins 



We are grateful to Eivind Thomassen for help in the field, to Annie Aasen for laboratory assistance, and for technical support from The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO). Permit to conduct research in Brånakollane Nature Reserve was issued by the County Governor of Vestfold (2013/3878). We thank Kjell Lie, on behalf of the forest owner, for kind help with access to the forest area. The Research Council of Norway funded this study (Grant No. 225018).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource ManagementNorwegian University of Life SciencesÅsNorway

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