Microbial dynamics and carbon and nitrogen cycling following re-wetting of soils beneath two semi-arid plant species

Peter Saetre, John M Stark


Sporadic summer rainfall in semi-arid ecosystems can provide enough soil moisture to drastically increase CO(2) efflux and rates of soil N cycling. The magnitudes of C and N pulses are highly variable, however, and the factors regulating these pulses are poorly understood. We examined changes in soil respiration, bacterial, fungal and microfaunal populations, and gross rates of N mineralization, nitrification, and NH(4) (+) and NO(3) (-) immobilization during the 10 days following wetting of dry soils collected from stands of big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) in central Utah. Soil CO(2) production increased more than tenfold during the 17 h immediately following wetting. The labile organic C pool released by wetting was almost completely respired within 2-3 days, and was nearly three times as large in sagebrush soil as in cheatgrass. In spite of larger labile C pools beneath sagebrush, microbial and microfaunal populations were nearly equal in the two soils. Bacterial and fungal growth coincided with depletion of labile C, and populations peaked in both soils 2 days after wetting. Protozoan populations, whose biomass was nearly 3,000-fold lower than bacteria and fungi, peaked after 2-4 days. ...Continue Reading


Apr 1, 1983·Applied and Environmental Microbiology·L R Bakken, R A Olsen
Oct 1, 1994·Trends in Ecology & Evolution·P C de RuiterJ C Moore
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