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Title: Short- and long-term influence of stand density on soil microbial communities in ponderosa pine forests
Author: Overby, Steven T.
Source: Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University. Dissertation. 159 p.
Description: Soil microbial communities process plant detritus and returns nutrients needed for plant growth. Increased knowledge of this intimate linkage between plant and soil microbial communities will provide a better understanding of ecosystem response to changing abiotic and biotic conditions. This dissertation consists of three studies to determine soil microbial community responses to reductions in ponderosa pine stand densities and prescribed fire. Chapter 2 relates forest floor and mineral soil (0-5 cm) microbial communities to stand densities across a productivity gradient over a large geographic area, in stands with levels of growing stock that have been maintained over forty years. Chapter 3 investigates the short-term responses of the soil microbial community and soil processes to three wildfire mitigation treatments in northern Arizona. Chapter 4 utilizes the northern Arizona site from Chapter 2 to delve into the interactions among plants, heterotrophic soil microorganisms, and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to stand density reductions, and the reintroduction of a low-intensity prescribed fire. Overall, these studies demonstrate a resistance to change in the soil microbial community following stand reductions and low-intensity prescribed fire in ponderosa pine forests. However, spatial attributes of reference conditions of Southwestern ponderosa pine communities, such as uneven tree distributions with large openings, appears to provide a greater potential for increasing native bunchgrasses than simply reducing the stand densities.
Keywords: stand density, soil microbial communities, ponderosa pine
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Overby, Steven T. 2009. Short- and long-term influence of stand density on soil microbial communities in ponderosa pine forests. Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University. Dissertation. 159 p.
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