Near- and mid-infrared spectroscopy allows for the detection of local patterns of forest soil properties. In combination with dendrometric data, it may be used as a prospective tool for determining soil heterogeneity before setting up long-term forest monitoring experiments.
Forest soils and stands generally exhibit higher spatial heterogeneity than other terrestrial ecosystems. This variability needs be taken into account before setting up long-term forest monitoring experiments to avoid multiple interactions between local heterogeneity and the factors tested in the experiment. We hypothesized that raw near- and mid-infrared spectra can be used as an integrated proxy of a large set of soil properties. The use of this method, in combination with dendrometric data, should provide a quick and cost-effective tool for optimizing the design of experimental forest sites. We assessed the local soil heterogeneity at 11 experimental sites in oak and beech stands, which belong to a new forest long-term ecological research (LTER) network. We used near- and mid-infrared spectroscopy in soil and litter samples. The spectra were subjected to principal components analyses (PCA) to determine the intra-site variability of the soil and litter layers. Based on mapped PCA coordinates and basic dendrometric data, it was possible to design the experiment and minimize the interactions between the treatment layout and the tested variables. The method was validated with chemical analyses of the soil. No interaction was detected at the set-up of the experiment between the treatment layout and chemical soil properties (C, N, C/N ratio, pH, CEC, Al, Mg, P2O5, Fe, Mn, Na, and K). Near-infrared (NIR) and mid-infrared (MIR) spectroscopy is a useful tool for characterizing the overall heterogeneity of soil chemical properties. It can be used without any preliminary calibration. In combination with dendrometric data, it provides a reliable method for optimizing LTER plots in different types of ecosystems.
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Akroume E, Zeller B, Buée M, Santenoise P, Saint-André L 2016. Improving the design of long-term monitoring experiments in forests: a new method for the assessment of local soil variability by combining infrared spectroscopy and dendrometric data. Ann. For. Sci.: 1-9. 10.1007/s13595-016-0572-3.