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Closed Access item Pinus halepensis Mill. plantations did not restore organic carbon, microbial biomass and activity levels in a semi-arid Mediterranean soil

Authors:Goberna, M.
Sánchez Díaz, Juan
Pascual, Juan Antonio
García Izquierdo, Carlos
Keywords:ATP content, Inceptisols, Maquis, Mediterranean forests, Microbial respiration, Mollisols
Issue Date:Jun-2007
Citation:Applied Soil Ecology 36(2-3): 107-115 (2007)
Abstract:Maquis is a dense evergreen shrub layer which, in semi-arid Mediterranean lands, is commonly linked to the presence of well-conserved soils with large contents of mineralizable substrates. It was our aim to test whether: (i) maquis promotes soil microbial biomass and activity, and (ii) mature pine plantations without a shrubby understory support microbial biomass and activity levels comparable to those of stands with maquis. Surface soil samples were taken in four sites that sustain pine plantations (PP), maquis with pines (MP), maquis (MQ) and grasslands (GS). Microbial biomass was inferred from the C content in the soil microbiota. The ATP content in fresh samples and the CO2–C production from incubated samples were used to assess microbial activity, as was the activity of β-glucosidase and alkaline phosphatase. Topsoils under maquis (MP and MQ) were the most fertile, both chemically (high organic carbon contents) and physically (low bulk density, high aggregate stability) and showed by far the largest levels of microbial biomass and activity. These levels in soils under PP, which sustained a successful plantation in terms of tree canopy density but lacked the shrubby understory, were significantly smaller than those of the adjacent shrubland with pines (MP). Redundancy analysis extracted a main axis explaining 67% of the variation of the microbiological soil properties, which was interpreted as an environmental gradient of soil fertility. Along this axis, the samples were separated according to the presence or absence of a maquis dominated by late-successional species; other factors such as soil type, slope position and aspect were less influential. The effects of afforestation practices on the detritus-based system should be considered in the design of future forest restoration strategies in desertification-threatened lands.
Description:9 pages, 3 tables, 5 figures.
Publisher version (URL):http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apsoil.2006.12.003
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