Long- and short-term changes in nutrient availability following commercial sawlog harvest via cable logging
Soil nutrient availability often limits forest productivity and soils have considerable variation in their ability to supply nutrients. Most southern Appalachian forests are minimally managed with no fertilizer inputs or routine thinning regime. Nutrient availability is regulated by atmospheric inputs and the internal cycling of nutrients through such processes as forest floor decomposition, soil organic matter mineralization, and weathering of parent material or primary minerals. Long-term studies in undisturbed forests have shown that soil cation concentrations often decline over time. These decreases result from the sequestration of nutrients in aboveground biomass and/or leaching to streams. The sequestration of nutrients has raised questions about the long-term effects of harvesting vegetation and its associated nutrient removal on long-term soil nutrient availability and site productivity.