Temporal Changes Rather than Long-Term Repeated Burning Predominately Control the Shift in the Abundance of Soil Denitrifying Community in an Australian Sclerophyll Forest
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To understand the temporal dynamics of soil bacterial denitrifying community in response to long-term prescribed burning and its resilience and recovery following a fire, a wet sclerophyll forest study site under two treatments (2 yearly burning (2YB) and no burning (NB)) and with 40-year-old burning history was used. Similar temporal patterns in the abundance of total (16S rRNA) and denitrifying (narG, nirK, nirS, nosZ) bacteria between two burning treatments revealed strong temporal influences. The magnitude of burning impacts on the abundance of 16S rRNA and denitrification genes was smaller compared with the impact of sampling time, but significant burning and temporal impacts were recorded for all (P < 0.001)—except for the nirS gene. Impacts of prescribed fire on the abundance of soil denitrifying community could be observed immediately after fire, and this impact diminished over a 24-month period prior to the next prescribed burning event. In conclusion, temporal changes govern the fluctuations of the abundance of soil denitrifying genes over the sampling period and the denitrifying community can recover after fire, suggesting that this community is resilient to the effects of prescribed burning. A combination of biotic and abiotic factors may account for the different temporal dynamics of denitrification gene abundance.