Nitrogen fertilization and tree species effect on the soil microbial communities and consequences for soil carbon
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
In the face of ever increasing atmospheric CO₂ a better understanding of soil properties and processes and the effect of management practices, such as the application of nitrogen fertilizer is of importance and could potentially improve our ability to sustainably manage forestry systems. With that in mind this study was conducted in order to investigate the effects of tree species and fertilization on soil carbon and the soil microbial community. To this end, soil from fertilized and unfertilized plots at Berwick forest, under stands of Pinus radiata and Sequoia sempervirens at Hanmer and under six different tree species at Holt forest was sampled. Two glasshouse pot trials were established using soil collected from the Hanmer and Berwick forest sites and seedlings of Pinus radiata, Sequoia sempervirens, and Eucalyptus nitens were grown.
Soil properties were determined from both the field sites and pot trials including soil organic matter, carbon, nitrogen, and microbial biomass by chloroform fumigation extraction. Biolog ecoplates were used to determine the relative differences in diversity based on substrate utilization patterns of the soil microbial communities in soil sampled from the glasshouse pot trials.
Soil microbial biomass carbon, nitrogen and the ratio of microbial biomass carbon:nitrogen differed significantly between Pinus radiata and the other tree species sampled at Holt forest. Significant effects of fertilization and tree species on soil carbon and microbial biomass were observed in both pot trials. Soil carbon differed significantly between Eucalyptus nitens and both Pinus radiata and Sequoia sempervirens in the first pot trial and relative to both, E. nitens contributed significantly more carbon. No significant effect of either fertilization or tree species on the catabolic diversity of the soil microbial community in both glasshouse pot trials was observed. The results demonstrated the effects that fertilization and tree species can have. Particularly notable was the short-time period in which tree species effects became apparent coupled with the absence of any aboveground inputs to the soil.