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Microbiological degradation index of soils in a semiarid climate

AutorBastida, F. ; Moreno, J. L. ; Hernández Fernández, María Teresa; García Izquierdo, Carlos
Palabras claveSoil degradation index
Soil respiration
Water-soluble C
Water-soluble carbohydrates
Enzymatic activities
Semiarid soils
Fecha de publicacióndic-2006
CitaciónSoil Biology and Biochemistry 38(12): 3463-3473 (2006)
ResumenSoil degradation and desertification affect many areas of the planet. One such area is the Mediterranean region of SE Spain, where the climatological and lithological conditions, together with the relief of the landscape and anthropological activity, including agricultural abandonment, are responsible for increasing desertification. It is therefore considered to be of extreme importance to be able to measure soil degradation quantitatively. The aim of this study was to make a microbiological and biochemical characterisation of different soil catenas in SE Spain, including in a wide range of plant cover densities in an attempt to assess the suitability of the parameters measured to reflect the state of soil degradation and the possibility of using the parameters to elaborate a microbiological degradation index (MDI) valid for use in semiarid climates. For this, several indices related with the organic matter content (total organic carbon, TOC, water-soluble carbon, WSC, and water-soluble carbohydrates, WSCh), with the size of microbial populations (microbial biomass carbon, MBC) and related activity (respiration and enzymatic activities) were determined in the soils of three different catenas in different seasons of the year. The values of these parameters were seen to be closely related with the degree of vegetal cover, forest soils with a high cover value showing the highest indices. There was a highly significant positive correlation (p<0.01) between the TOC and WSC content, and other parameters such as MBC, ATP, dehydrogenase activity and the activity of different hydrolases (urease, protease, phosphatase and β-glucosidase). The results show that the parameters analysed are a good reflection of a soil's microbiological quality since the soils with the worst characteristics (saline and with low organic matter and nutrient content) showed the lowest values. The study provides a soil degradation index based on its microbiological properties: MDI. This index is a function of the following five parameters, which showed the greatest weight in the factorial analysis made with all the parameters analysed: dehydrogenase activity, WSCh, urease activity, WSC and respiration.
Descripción11 pages, 8 tables.
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2006.06.001
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