Keywords: Physico-chemical properties, Plant diversity, Soil nutrients, n Sal forests, Ranchi
Soil physicochemical properties were studied using standard methods at 3 months’ interval in six different Sal forests of Ranchi (02 LDF: Low-density Sal forests, 02 MDF: Moderate-density Sal forests, and 02 HDF: High-density Sal forests). The present study examined the soil nutrients dynamics and their relationship with climate (temperature, relative humidity, and rainfall) and community parameters. Soil physicochemical properties ranged from 5.18 ± 0.06 to 6.52 ± 0.11 (pH), 0.82 ± 0.31 to 1.85 ± 0.54% (soil organic carbon), 106 ± 2.47 to 188 ± 6.52 kg ha−1 (available nitrogen), 87.53 ± 4.11 to 164.41 ± 4.21 kg ha−1 (available potassium), 9.76 ± 2.42 to 32.05 ± 3.46 kg ha−1 (available phosphorus) in different forests. Soil pH showed significant positive correlation with mean monthly rainfall (r = 0.326, p < 0.05), and RH (r = 0.350, p < 0.05) but, insignificant negative correlation with temperature (r = − 0.09). The present study recorded significant positive correlation of tree density with SOC (r = 0.09, p < 0.05), clay (%) (r = 0.410, p < 0.01), silt (%) (r = 0.293, p < 0.05), and rainfall (r = 0.65, p < 0.05) however, a significant negative correlation with AP (r = − 0.805, p < 0.01), AN (r = − 0.220, p < 0.05), and soil pH (r = − 0.40, p < 0.05). There are significant differences in soil pH during different seasons (F7,960 = 106, p < 0.001), as well as in various forest types (F2,960 = 1244, p < 0.001). On the other hand, tree density has an inverse relationship with Shannon H’ (r2 = 0.392), and evenness has a significant positive correlation with Shannon H (r2 = 0.929). On the contrary, the highest Shannon H’, species richness (Dmg, and Dmn), and effective no. of species (ENS) were observed in LDF (2.52, 3.92, 1.28, and 13 respectively), and lowest in HDF (1.04, 1.90, 0.66, and 3 respectively). The findings of the present study would be of immense value in formulating appropriate forest management plans for Sal forests to protect S. robusta, the timber tree of high economic value, and its associates.
The authors express their gratitude to the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Govt. of India for financial assistance for the project Status, Distribution and Composition of Sal Forests of Ranchi, Jharkhand, Eastern India in relation to Microclimatic as well as Edaphic Conditions (Ref. No. YSS/2015/000479 dated 12 January 2016). The support and assistance provided by the Jharkhand State Forest Department, Ranchi, and the local people involved during the field survey are highly acknowledged.