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Title: PLFA profiling of microbial community structure and seasonal shifts in soils of a Douglas-fir chronosequence

Author: Moore-Kucera, Jennifer; Dick, Richard P.;

Date: 2008

Source: Microbial Ecology. 55: 500-511

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: The impact and frequency of forest harvesting could significantly affect soil microbial community (SMC) structure and functioning. The ability of soil microorganisms to perform biogeochemical processes is critical for sustaining forest productivity and has a direct impact on decomposition dynamics and carbon storage potential. The Wind River Canopy Crane Research Forest in southwest Washington provided a unique opportunity to study a forest chronosequence and the residual effects of harvesting on the SMC in comparison to old-growth forests. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of clearcutting and stand age on temporal dynamics of SMC and physiological stress markers using phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) profiling. Soil microbial PLFA profiles were determined seven times over 22 months in old-growth coniferous forest stands (300-500 years) and 8- or 25-year-old replanted clearcuts. PLFA patterns of the SMC shifted because of clearcutting, but seasonal temporal changes had greater shifts than differences among stand age. The microbial biomass (total PLFA) and bacterial, fungal, and selected other PLFAs were significantly reduced in 8-year-old but not in 25-year-old sites relative to the old-growth sites. An increase in stress indicators in late summer was related to water stress. Although the canopy and litter input are quite different for a 25-year clearcut compared to virgin old-growth forest, we conclude that the composition of the microbial communities, 25 years after clearcutting, has recovered sufficiently to be much more similar to old-growth forests than a recent clearcut at this Pacific Northwest forest site. The study shows the potential of PLFA analysis for profiling microbial communities and their stress status under field conditions, but wide temporal shifts emphasize the need for sampling over seasons to fully interpret ecosystem management impacts on microbial populations.

Keywords: Soil microbial community, PLFA patterns, old growth, clearcuts

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Moore-Kucera, Jennifer; Dick, Richard P. 2008. PLFA profiling of microbial community structure and seasonal shifts in soils of a Douglas-fir chronosequence. Microbial Ecology. 55: 500-511


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