Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Calcium oxalate contribution to calcium cycling in forests of contrasting nutrient status

August 25, 2014

Calcium oxalate (Ca oxalate) is an insoluble biomineral that forms in plants and fungi, and occurs in soils across many types of ecosystems. Assessing how Ca oxalate may shape ecosystem Ca cycling requires information on the distribution of Ca oxalate among plant biomass, detritus, and mineral soil, and how it varies with ecosystem Ca status. We compared two Douglas-fir forests of contrasting ecosystem Ca availability, and found that Ca oxalate was partitioned similarly among plant biomass, detritus and mineral soil major ecosystem compartments at both sites, and total pools of Ca oxalate were greater in the high-Ca forest. However, the proportional importance of Ca oxalate was greater in the low-Ca than high-Ca forest (18% versus 4% of actively cycling ecosystem Ca, respectively). And calcium oxalate in mineral soil, which is of particular interest as a potential long-term Ca reservoir, was a larger portion of total available Ca (exchangeable Ca plus Ca oxalate Ca) in the low-Ca site than the high-Ca site (9% versus 1% of available soil Ca, respectively). Calcium oxalate was the dominant form of Ca returned from plants to soil as leaf litterfall at the high-Ca site, yet calcium oxalate disappeared rapidly from decomposing litter (0.28 yr−1 or faster) at both sites. We conclude that accumulation of Ca oxalate in forest ecosystems appears most closely related to overall Ca supply for live biomass pools, and that the accumulation of Ca oxalate in forest floor and mineral soil is limited by rapid microbial degradation of putatively unavailable Ca oxalate.

Publication Year 2014
Title Calcium oxalate contribution to calcium cycling in forests of contrasting nutrient status
DOI 10.1016/j.foreco.2014.08.029
Authors Jenny M. Dauer, Steven S. Perakis
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Forest Ecology and Management
Index ID 70126420
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center