Is there a feedback between N availability in siliceous and calcareous soils and Cistus albidus leaf chemical composition?

Eva Castells, Josep Peñuelas

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23 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of the Mediterranean shrub Cistus albidus on N cycling were studied in two siliceous (granitic-derived and schistic-derived) and one calcareous soil differentiated by their texture and acidity. We aimed to find out whether soils under C. albidus were affected by the release of C compounds from the canopy, and whether phenolic compound production in C. albidus changed depending on the soil N availability. Calcareous soils, with higher clay content and polyvalent cations, had a higher organic matter content but lower net N mineralization rates than siliceous soils, and C. albidus growing therein were characterized by lower foliar N and phenolic compound concentrations. Under C. albidus, all types of soils had higher phenolic compound concentrations and polyphenol oxidase activity. C. albidus presence and leachate addition decreased net N mineralization and increased soil respiration in siliceous soils, and these changes were related to a higher soil C/N ratio under the canopy. In calcareous soils, however, no significant effects of plant presence on N cycling were found. In the studied plant-soil system it is not likely that higher phenolic compound concentrations were selected during evolution to enhance nutrient conservation in soil because (1) higher phenolic compound concentrations were not associated with lower soil fertilities, (2) C compounds released from C. albidus accelerated N cycling by increasing N immobilization and no evidence was found for decreased gross N mineralization, and (3) soil organic N content was more related to soil chemical and physical properties than to the effects of the C. albidus canopy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-192
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2003


  • Leachates
  • Mediterranean vegetation
  • N cycling
  • N mineralization
  • Phenolic compounds


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