Soil microbial biomass, activity and community composition in adjacent native and plantation forests of subtropical Australia
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Purpose Soil nitrogen (N) availability is a critical determinant of plantation productivity in subtropical Australia and is influenced by the soil microbial community. The size, structure and function of the soil microbial community can be impacted by land-use change and residue management. The objectives of this study were to examine the impact of land-use change from (1) native forest (NF) to first rotation (1R) hoop pine plantation and (2) 1R hoop pine plantation to second rotation (2R) hoop pine plantation on the soil microbial community. The impact of residue management on the soil microbial community was also investigated in the 2R forest, where soil microbial parameters were measured in tree rows (2R-T) and windrows (2R-W). In addition, relationships between soil microbial parameters and soil N parameters were investigated. Materials and methods Each of the four treatments (NF, 1R, 2R-T and 2R-W) had five 24-m2 replicate plots from which 15 soil cores were collected and bulked at three depths (0-10, 10-20, 20-30 cm). Microbial biomass carbon (MBC) and N (MBN) and soil respiration were measured on field moist soils. In addition, carbon (C) source utilisation patterns were assessed using the whole soil MicroResp頴echnique (Campbell et al. 2003). Results and discussion Results indicate that the land-use change from NF to 1R hoop pine plantation significantly reduced MBC, respiration rate, soil total C and total N. Furthermore, the land-use change appeared to have a significant impact on the soil microbial community composition measured using MicroResp頰rofiles. Land-use change from 1R to 2R hoop pine plantation resulted in a decline in total C and MBN and a shift in microbial community composition. When compared to the 2R-T soils, the 2R-W soils tended to have a greater microbial biomass and respiration rate. Residue management also influenced the microbial community composition measured in the MicroResp頰rofiles. Conclusions Results indicate that land-use change had a significant impact on the soil microbial community, which was likely to be related to shifts in the quality and quantity of organic inputs associated with the change in land use. This may have significant implications for the long-term productivity of the soil resource. Further studies are required to confirm a difference in microbial community composition associated with residue management. In addition, long-term experiments in subtropical Australia are necessary to verify the results of this snapshot study and to improve our understanding of the impact of single-species plantation forestry and residue management on the soil microbial community, soil N dynamics and ultimately the long-term sustainability of the soil resource.
Journal of Soils and Sediments
Soil Sciences not elsewhere classified