Nutrient distribution and accumulation patterns of natural secondary forests in the Loess Plateau of Shanxi Province, northern China

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We studied the biomass and its allocation in natural secondary forests, as well as the amounts, accumulation and distribution of nutrient elements (N, P, K, Ca and Mg) in sample plots established in the Loess Plateau in Shanxi Province, northern China. The results show that biomass in natural secondary forests amounted to 36.09 t/hm2, of which the tree layer accounted for 46%, the shrub layer for 29%, the herb layer for 13% and the litter layer for 12%. The total storage of the five nutrient elements is 1089.82 kg/hm2. Nutrient storage in the tree layer is the largest, at 41%. The sequence of storage of the elements varied among different layers and is given as follows: shrub layer 31.27%, herb layer 12.55% and litter layer 15.36%. The accumulation of nutrient elements in the tree layer, ordered from high to low, is: branches > roots > stems >bark > leaves. The total storage of the five nutrient elements in the soil is 634.97 t/hm2, where the accumulation of the nutrients accounts for 95.32% (N), 99.64% (P), 99.91% (K), 99.84% (Ca) and 99.95% (Mg) of the total amounts. The accumulation coefficients of different organs in the tree layer are, from high to low: leaves > branches > roots > bark > stems. The accumulation coefficients in the different layers are listed as follows: shrub layer > tree layer > herb layer and for the elements as: N > P > Ca > K > Mg.

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