The effects of litter production and litter depth on soil microclimate in a central european deciduous forest

István Fekete, Csaba Varga, Borbála Biró, János Attila Tóth, Gábor Várbíró, Kate Lajtha, Gergely Szabó, Zsolt Kotroczó

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background and aims: We examined the influence of litter quality and litter depth on soil microclimate in the detrital manipulation plots in the Síkfőkút Detrital Input and Removal Treatments (DIRT) experiment in northeastern Hungary. We measured the soil temperatures from 06.01.2001 to 06.16.2008 and air temperature from 06.17.2004 to 06.16.2008. Methods: DIRT manipulations include two litter addition and three litter removal treatments, and one Control. Results: There were significant differences detected among plots in winter and summer soil mean temperatures (p < 0.001) as well as in the number of frost-free days. The highest annual soil temperature variation was detected in litter removal treatments, while the lowest variation was in Double Litter plots with the thickest litter layer. The root exclusion treatments had significantly greater soil moisture contents than other treatments due to loss of transpiration. Plots wetter and lower in organic matter showed lower winter temperatures. Conclusion: Climate change influences soil temperature and moisture content not only directly, but also through the change of litter production. Litter thickness can reduce the effects of soil temperature extremes and moderate minimum and maximum temperature values. These differences in soil microclimate may have a highly significant, but unrecognized effect on soil carbon balance through effects on microbial processing of litter and soil carbon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-300
Number of pages10
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2016



  • Climate change
  • Detritus manipulation
  • Microclimate
  • Soil moisture
  • Soil temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science

Cite this

Fekete, I., Varga, C., Biró, B., Tóth, J. A., Várbíró, G., Lajtha, K., Szabó, G., & Kotroczó, Z. (2016). The effects of litter production and litter depth on soil microclimate in a central european deciduous forest. Plant and Soil, 398(1-2), 291-300.