Holm oak (Quercus ilex L.) cover: A key soil-forming force in controlling C and nutrient stocks in long-time coppice-managed forests

Lorenzo Camponi, Valeria Cardelli, Stefania Cocco, Dominique Serrani, Andrea Salvucci, Andrea Cutini, Alberto Agnelli, Gianfranco Fabbio, Giada Bertini, Pier Paolo Roggero, David C. Weindorf, Giuseppe Corti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In forest ecosystems, soil-plant interactions drive the physical, chemical, and biological soil properties and, through soil organic matter cycling, control the dynamics of nutrient cycles. Parent material also plays a fundamental role in determining soil's chemical properties and nutrient availability. In this study, eight long-time coppice-managed Holm oak forests under conversion to high forest, located under similar climatic conditions in Tuscany and Sardinia Regions (Italy), and grown on soils developed from three different lithologies (limestone, biotite granite, and granite with quartz veins) were evaluated. The research aimed to a) estimate the amount of C and nutrients (total N and potentially available P, Ca, Mg, and K) stored both in the organic, organo-mineral, and mineral horizons and at fixed depth intervals (0–0.3 and 0.3–0.5 m), and b) assess the dominant pedological variables driving elemental accumulation. The soils were described and sampled by genetic horizons and each sample was analyzed for its C and nutrient concentration in both the fine earth and skeleton fractions. Despite the different parent materials from which the soils had evolved, the physicochemical properties and the C and nutrient stocks for the 0–0.3 and 0.3–0.5 m layers did not show substantial differences among the eight soils. Conversely, some differences were observed in the stocks of potentially available P and Ca per 0.01 m of mineral horizons. The findings show that over time, plant-induced pedogenic processes (acidification, mineral weathering, organic matter addition, and nutrient cycling) almost obliterated the influence of parent materials on soil properties. This resulted in the upper soil horizons that showed similar characteristics, even though derived from different lithologies. However, among the study sites, some differences occurred due to lithology, as in the case of the soils derived from calcareous parent materials that had high concentrations of exchangeable Ca in the mineral horizons and, likely, to environmental variables (e.g., exposure), which possibly influenced litter degradation and the release of nutrients such as N and available P.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117181
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
StatePublished - Mar 15 2023


  • Forest management
  • Forest soil
  • Parent material
  • Soil horizons
  • Soil organic matter


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