Presentation Title

Phenological Impacts on Litter Interception in a Pinus elliottii Stand, Southeastern US

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Abstract or Description

Interception of net precipitation in forest floor litter can be substantial, particularly in pine forests where a persistent and thick needle layer can exist. Past research on seasonal dynamics of litter interception focused primarily on litter thickness, yet forest phenological phases can change litter composition as well as thickness. In this study, weekly changes in litter composition over 1 year are used to compare phenological phases (branch/bark shedding, leaf shedding, cone production, and vine/understory broadleaf shedding) to field- and lab-measured litter water storage. The major phenology-related change to litter water storage was from cone production, which increased litter water storage approximately 70% at its maximum during early spring. Broadleaf production by epiphytic vines and a sparse hardwood understory during fall months modestly increased litter layer thickness and, thereby, maximum water storage and water retention. Needle, bark and branch shedding habits during the 2015-2016 study period had more minor effects on litter interception. Results agree with the few studies examining seed pod water storage, that release of reproductive materials appear to be a major compositional driver of litter interception beyond its obvious contribution to litter thickness.


American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting (AGU)


San Francisco, CA