This chronosequential study focuses on the vegetation succession, Luvisol pedogenesis, and long-term carbon dynamics during post-agricultural restoration in the temperate broad-leaved forest of European Russia. The study comprises three chronosequences of 37 years (North), 120 years (Middle), and 42 years (South) to cover climatic differences within the study area. The sites of each catena were mostly comparable in terms of climate, soil texture, and land history, but the duration of agricultural abandonment differed between sites. Plant succession developed via a birch forest or a pear-ash woodland to a birch-oak forest with Aegopódium podagrária after 120 years, which indicates the plant association is near to a climax oak forest. Former homogenous plow horizons formed a new morphological stratification similar to natural Luvisols, due to the formation of a well rooted Ah horizon and an O horizon of mull; a change in soil structure from coarse blocky to granular; and decreasing bulk densities. However, plow features were identified even after 120 years of Luvisols restoration. During restoration, the former plow horizons showed minor changes of pH 5.4–5.6 (CaCl2). However, a slightly increased pH value within the newly developed Ah and O horizons induced a new pH stratification of the former plow horizon, approaching the natural soils. Compared to the former plow horizons below, soil organic carbon (SOC) and plant available nutrients (P, K) enrichment was observed within the newly developed Ah horizons. The SOC stocks of the 5 cm mineral topsoil increased from 0.8 to 1.7 kg m−2 (North), from 1.3 to 1.7 kg m−2 (Middle), and from 1.4 to 2.3 kg m−2 (South) during restoration. The surface organic layers showed SOC stocks of 0.1–0.2 kg m−2. However, the levels of the near-natural soils were not reached after 37 years (North) and 42 years (South) of restoration. The model predicted a recovery time of about 150 years to achieve a comparatively steady state. A negative effect of mowing was observed for the modelled SOC accumulation. Despite all these alterations, the study showed no full restoration for many parameters within the chronosequential timescale of 120 years.
Scopus subject areas
- Earth-Surface Processes