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Forests 2017, 8(6), 213; doi:10.3390/f8060213

Influence of Altitude on Biochemical Properties of European Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) Forest Soils

1
Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Science, University of Perugia, 06121 Perugia, Italy
2
Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Science, Polytechnic University of Marche, 60131 Ancona, Italy
3
Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economy Analysis, Research Centre for Agrobiology and Pedology, 50125 Firenze, Italy
4
Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economy Analysis, Research Centre for Soil-Plant System Studies, 34170 Gorizia, Italy
5
Institute for Ecosystem Study, National Research Council, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (Firenze), Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Timothy A. Martin
Received: 5 May 2017 / Revised: 5 June 2017 / Accepted: 13 June 2017 / Published: 17 June 2017
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Abstract

Climate warming is predicted to raise the mean global temperature by 1 °C in the next 50 years, and this change is believed to be capable of affecting soil organic matter cycling and nutrient availability. With the aim of increasing knowledge on the response of forest soils to the ongoing climate change, we used altitude as a proxy for temperature change and studied chemical and biochemical properties of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) forest soils at two altitudes (800 and 1000 m) from central Apennines (Italy). Results showed that 1 °C of mean annual air temperature difference between the sites at the two altitudes had greater effect on the mineral horizons than on the organic horizons. At higher altitude, mineral soil had limited development, higher pH, and higher organic matter content due to the lower efficiency of the microbial community. Enzymatic activities of the organic horizons were generally not affected by altitude. Conversely, we observed a higher activity of xylosidase, β-glucosidase, alkaline phosphomonoesterase, arylsulfatase, and leucine-aminopeptidase in the sub-superficial horizons (Bw1 and Bw2) of the soils at 1000 m. We hypothesized that, as a response to environmental and climatic constraints occurring at higher altitude, plant roots increase the production of enzymes directly and/or indirectly by triggering the microbial community through exudation. View Full-Text
Keywords: organic horizons; soil organic matter; soil microbial biomass carbon; soil enzymatic activity; climate change organic horizons; soil organic matter; soil microbial biomass carbon; soil enzymatic activity; climate change
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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De Feudis, M.; Cardelli, V.; Massaccesi, L.; Lagomarsino, A.; Fornasier, F.; Westphalen, D.J.; Cocco, S.; Corti, G.; Agnelli, A. Influence of Altitude on Biochemical Properties of European Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) Forest Soils. Forests 2017, 8, 213.

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