Effects of regenerating forest cover on soil microbial communities: A case study in hilly red soil region, Southern China


Zheng, Hua; Ouyang, Zhiyun; Wang, Xiaoke; Fang, Zhiguo G.; Zhao, Tongqian; Miao, Hong

Journal or Book Title: Forest Ecology and Management

Keywords: Soil microbial community; Microbial biomass; Metabolic diversity patterns; BIOLOG; Forest restoration

Volume/Issue: 217

Page Number(s): 244-254

Year Published: 2005


The stability and function of a soil ecosystem depends on the cycling of nutrients by the soil microbial community. To evaluate the effects of regenerating forest cover on the function of microbial community, the differences of four forest restoration approaches, including plantations of slash pine, Chinese fir, tea-oil camellia and natural secondary forest, in soil microbial community size, activity and metabolic diversity were measured by microbial biomass and metabolic diversity (BIOLOG) assays in a hilly red soil region, Southern China. Native soils were sampled and assessed with 0–20 and 20–40 cm layers. Results
showed that significant differences ( p < 0.05) were found in soil microbial biomass among four forest restoration approaches. It was highest in the soil of natural secondary forest, medial in the plantations of tea-oil camellia and Chinese fir and the least in slash pine plantation. Principal component analysis (PCA) further revealed consistent differences of the metabolic diversity patterns in 0–20 cm soil, but not for Chinese fir plantation, tea-oil camellia plantation and natural secondary forest in 20–40 cm soil. Average well colour development (AWCD) and indices of richness and diversity showed significant difference in the four
forest restoration approaches. The variable tendency of the indicators was the same as microbial biomass. These suggested that the ability to utilize sole-carbon-source and functional diversity (metabolic diversity) for soil microbial community were stronger in natural secondary forest than that in plantations. Altogether, microbial biomass and metabolic diversity patterns in 0– 20 cm soil of natural secondary forest were dominant, comparing with that of three plantations, viz. slash pine plantation, Chinese fir plantation and tea-oil camellia plantation. While in 20–40 cm soil there were no recognizable differences for above
indicators among four vegetation types. Factors affecting the structure and function of soil microbial community appeared to be linked closely with artificial tending, soil and water loss, root biomass and litter production. The information gathered from the studies can be used to baseline data for forest restoration projects.

DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2005.06.005

Type of Publication: Journal Article