The influence of the invasive alien nitrogen‑fixing Robinia pseudoacacia L. on soil nitrogen availability in a mixed Mediterranean riparian forest

Poblador, SílviaLupon, Anna Martí, Eugènia Sabater, FrancescSabaté, SantiBernal, Susana. European Journal of Forest Research 138: 1083-1093 (2019). DIGITAL CSIC

Robinia pseudoacacia L. occupies large areas of Mediterranean riparian zones of the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. This study investigates the influence of the invasive alien nitrogen-fixing R. pseudoacacia on leaf litter nitrogen (N) inputs and soil N availability in a mixed riparian forest in NE Spain. We measured annual leaf litter N inputs, decomposition rates, soil N processes, and soil N concentrations at three sections (near-stream, intermediate, and hillslope) across a riparian forested zone. Moreover, we explored changes in soil N availability associated with the presence of R. pseudoacacia by means of an empirical forest floor model. Leaf litter N content was higher for R. pseudoacacia than for the native non-fixing species. Although the contribution of R. pseudoacacia to annual leaf litter N inputs increased from the near-stream to the hillslope section, soil N mineralization, nitrification, and N availability were similar among sections. Simulations suggest that soil N availability was higher at the near-stream than at the hillslope section without the presence of R. pseudoacacia. However, this pattern smoothed down as R. pseudoacacia spread across the riparian forest. Overall, our results suggest that the spreading of R. pseudoacacia across the riparian zone contributed to homogenize soil N availability over time, and highlight that an integrated spatiotemporal view of the invasive process is needed to assess its impact on soil N biogeochemistry.