The effects of forty years of spruce cultivation in a zone of beech forest on mt. Maljen (Serbia)
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This study investigates the effects of the forty-year cultivation of Picea abies on the floristic composition, physical and chemical soil characteristics, and the intensity of organic matter decomposition in a zone of mountainous beech forest (mt. Maljen, northwestern Serbia). The long-term cultivation of conifers in a deciduous habitat has caused a reduction in biodiversity, as well as changes in the soil which were most pronounced in the top soil layer. There were found to be lower soil moisture levels (p<0.05), lower active (p<0.01) and substitutional acidity (p<0.001), depletion of the adsorption complex in base cations (p<0.001), and lower levels of n, P and K (p<0.001) in the spruce stand in relation to the beech stand (control). The higher C/n ratio of spruce litter (p<0.001) caused its lower decomposition rate in comparison to beech litter (p<0.01). All these changes have led to degradation and a reduction in this ecosystem’s productivity.