Special Issue "Role of Soil Organisms in Soil Formation and Nutrient Circulation in Forest Ecosystems"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 5 August 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Jan Frouz
Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Environmental Studies, Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague, Benátská 2, 128 44 Prague 2, Czech Republic
Interests: soil fauna microbial interaction, the role of soil biota as an ecosystem engineers, their role in soil formation and nutrient cycling and soil and ecosystem development and its role ecosystem development of disturbed sites
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Soil represents a very complex environment, and interactions amongst soil biotic and abiotic components govern rates of key ecological processes such as primary production, biogeochemical cycles, carbon fluxes, and hydrological regimes. Soils also harbor tremendous biodiversity, and soil organisms are at the centre of complex above- and belowground interactions. The soil biota also plays a principal role in soil formation. This Special Issue will deal with these abovementioned topics in relation to ecosystem functioning, soil formation, and nutrient cycling.

Prof. Dr. Jan Frouz
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • soil fauna
  • ecosystem engeneers
  • interaction
  • soil formation
  • plant
  • soil
  • microbes

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Topography on Long-Term Spontaneous Development of Soil and Woody Cover on Graded and Untreated Overburden
Forests 2020, 11(5), 602; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11050602 - 25 May 2020
Abstract
We studied the development of soil and soil fauna, as well as selected vegetation parameters important for litter input into soil, in two chronosequences of postmining sites after opencast lignite mining near the town of Most (Czechia). Both chronosequences did not have tree [...] Read more.
We studied the development of soil and soil fauna, as well as selected vegetation parameters important for litter input into soil, in two chronosequences of postmining sites after opencast lignite mining near the town of Most (Czechia). Both chronosequences did not have tree planting. On the first chronosequence, no leveling or any other measures had taken place after heaping, and the site kept the wavelike appearance created by the dumping process. The second chronosequence was formed by sites levelled by earthmoving machinery and in which shallow topsoil layers were spread. Both chronosequences were about 30 years old, and consisted of 8 and 11 sites for wavelike and levelled sites, respectively. In addition, samples were taken from a birch site outside of the heaps. Results showed differences in the development of tree and herb layers in both chronosequences. In the levelled sites, herb and tree cover increased after levelling, and woody cover developed much slower. In ungraded sites, woody cover developed faster, and the herb layer slower. Soil chemistry showed a similar pattern in both sites over time, characterized by a decrease in pH and sodium ion content. Soil macrofauna in levelled sites showed random oscillations, while it gradually increased with time in wavelike sites. The study suggested that site levelling alters long-term ecosystem development in postmining sites. Wavelike sites tend to develop towards pioneer forests, while leveled sites tend to be covered by grass and herb vegetation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Mitigate Nitrogen Leaching under Poplar Seedlings
Forests 2020, 11(3), 325; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11030325 - 14 Mar 2020
Abstract
The leaching of soil nitrogen (N) has become one of the most concerning environmental threats to ecosystems. Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi have important ecological functions, however, their influence on soil N leaching and the mechanism of action remain unclear. We conducted a two-factor [...] Read more.
The leaching of soil nitrogen (N) has become one of the most concerning environmental threats to ecosystems. Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi have important ecological functions, however, their influence on soil N leaching and the mechanism of action remain unclear. We conducted a two-factor (N application level × AM inoculation) experiment on poplar, and for the first time, comprehensively analyzed the mechanism by which AM fungi influence soil N leaching. The results showed that, under optimum (7.5 mM) and high (20 mM) N levels, the nitrate (NO3) and ammonium (NH4+) concentrations of leachate in the AM inoculated treatment (+AM) were lower than in the non-inoculated treatment (−AM), with significant reductions of 20.0% and 67.5%, respectively, under high N level, indicating that AM inoculation can reduce soil N leaching and that it is more effective for NH4+. The arbuscular and total colonization rates gradually increased, and the morphology of spores and vesicles changed as the N level increased. Under optimum and high N levels, +AM treatment increased the root N concentration by 11.7% and 50.7%, respectively; the increase was significant (p < 0.05) at the high N level, which was associated with slightly increased transpiration and root activity despite reductions in root surface area and root length. Additionally, the +AM treatment increased soil cation exchange capacity (CEC), soil organic carbon (SOC), and significantly (p < 0.05) increased the proportions of macroaggregates (but without significant change in microaggregates), causing soil total nitrogen (TN) to increase by 7.2% and 4.7% under optimum and high N levels, respectively. As the N levels increased, the relative contributions of AM inoculation on N leaching increased, however, the contributions of plant physiological and soil variables decreased. Among all of the variables, SOC had important contributions to NH4+ and total N in the leachate, while root N concentration had a higher contribution to NO3. In conclusion, AM fungi can mitigate soil N leaching and lower the risk of environmental pollution via enhancing N interception by the inoculated fungi, increasing N sequestration in plant roots, and by improving soil N retention. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Soil Microbial Community Assembly and Interactions Are Constrained by Nitrogen and Phosphorus in Broadleaf Forests of Southern China
Forests 2020, 11(3), 285; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11030285 - 29 Feb 2020
Abstract
Subtropical and tropical broadleaf forests play important roles in conserving biodiversity and regulating global carbon cycle. Nonetheless, knowledge about soil microbial diversity, community composition, turnover and microbial functional structure in sub- and tropical broadleaf forests is scarce. In this study, high-throughput sequencing was [...] Read more.
Subtropical and tropical broadleaf forests play important roles in conserving biodiversity and regulating global carbon cycle. Nonetheless, knowledge about soil microbial diversity, community composition, turnover and microbial functional structure in sub- and tropical broadleaf forests is scarce. In this study, high-throughput sequencing was used to profile soil microbial community composition, and a micro-array GeoChip 5.0 was used to profile microbial functional gene distribution in four sub- and tropical broadleaf forests (HS, MES, HP and JFL) in southern China. The results showed that soil microbial community compositions differed dramatically among all of four forests. Soil microbial diversities in JFL were the lowest (5.81–5.99) and significantly different from those in the other three forests (6.22–6.39). Furthermore, microbial functional gene interactions were the most complex and closest, likely in reflection to stress associated with the lowest nitrogen and phosphorus contents in JFL. In support of the importance of environmental selection, we found selection (78–96%) dominated microbial community assembly, which was verified by partial Mantel tests showing significant correlations between soil phosphorus and nitrogen content and microbial community composition. Taken together, these results indicate that nitrogen and phosphorus are pivotal in shaping soil microbial communities in sub- and tropical broadleaf forests in southern China. Changes in soil nitrogen and phosphorus, in response to plant growth and decomposition, will therefore have significant changes in both microbial community assembly and interaction. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Development of Nutrient Uptake by Understory Plant Arrhenatherum elatius and Microbial Biomass during Primary Succession of Forest Soils in Post-Mining Land
Forests 2020, 11(2), 247; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11020247 - 23 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The development of plant and soil microbial communities is one of the basic preconditions for the restoration of functional ecosystems. However, nutrients are concurrently used by plants and microbes, and the dynamics of this interaction during ecosystem development have seldom been studied. The [...] Read more.
The development of plant and soil microbial communities is one of the basic preconditions for the restoration of functional ecosystems. However, nutrients are concurrently used by plants and microbes, and the dynamics of this interaction during ecosystem development have seldom been studied. The aim of our study, thus, was to describe the dynamics of nutrient availability in soil and, at the same time, the nutrient accumulation in plant and microbial biomass along an unassisted primary succession heading toward broadleaf forest. The growth of the understory plant Arrhenatherum elatius on soils originating from three (16, 22, and 45 years’ old) successional stages of a post-mining area and the development of the microbial community in the presence or absence of this plant were studied in a pot experiment. Both, the plant biomass and carbon (C) in microbial biomass in intermediate and late middle successional stages were higher than those in the early stage. In soil, extractable organic C, extractable organic nitrogen (N), and inorganic N increased with proceeding succession, but Olsen phosphorus (P) peaked in the intermediate successional stage. The amounts of N and P in plant and microbial biomass increased during succession. In the late middle successional stage, the amount of P in microbial biomass exceeded that of plant bound P approximately twice, and this increase was higher in pots with plants than without. The results imply that the competition between plants and microbes for available P may increase microbial P uptake and, thus, hinder plant growth in later successional stages. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Consumption Performance of Five Detritivore Species Feeding on Alnus glutinosa L. Leaf Litter in a Microcosm Experiment
Forests 2019, 10(12), 1080; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10121080 - 27 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The present study was performed to assess the feeding performance of five detritivore species in a microcosm design. The test animals were four millipede species, Telodeinopus aoutii (Demange), Epibolus pulchripes (Gerstäcker), Cylindroiulus caeruleocinctus (Wood), Glomeris hexasticha (Brandt), and one isopod species, Porcellio scaber [...] Read more.
The present study was performed to assess the feeding performance of five detritivore species in a microcosm design. The test animals were four millipede species, Telodeinopus aoutii (Demange), Epibolus pulchripes (Gerstäcker), Cylindroiulus caeruleocinctus (Wood), Glomeris hexasticha (Brandt), and one isopod species, Porcellio scaber (Latreille), all feeding on Alnus glutinosa L. leaf litter for five consecutive weeks. At the end of each one-week interval, litter consumption, animal fresh weight, and excrement production were measured. Then, the feeding activity parameters for each species were calculated. Between big-size animal species, higher leaf consumption rates of 12.3–30.9 mg dry weight day−1 individual−1 were calculated for T. aoutii compared to those of 3.72–8.25 mg dry weight day−1 individual−1 for E. pulchripes. However, there was no difference in the consumption rates among small-size animals ranging from 0.46 to 1.65 mg dry weight day−1 individual−1. Excrement production rates followed a similar trend, as the consumption rates and the animals’ body weight remained constant during the experiment. Time was an important factor influencing the feeding activity of the animals, especially for the big-size group. Overall, the average assimilation efficiency of these species varied from 13.7% to 53.3%. The results of the present work will be the first step for understanding the ecological needs of these decomposer species in soil ecosystems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Changes in Functional Response of Soil Microbial Community along Chronosequence of Spontaneous Succession on Post Mining Forest Sites Evaluated by Biolog and SIR Methods
Forests 2019, 10(11), 1005; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10111005 - 11 Nov 2019
Abstract
Soil formation in post-mining sites is crucial for restoring ecosystem function, and soil formation depend on the accumulation of soil organic matter and the development of an active microbial community. In this study, we used substrate-induced respiration (SIR) and Biolog plates to characterize [...] Read more.
Soil formation in post-mining sites is crucial for restoring ecosystem function, and soil formation depend on the accumulation of soil organic matter and the development of an active microbial community. In this study, we used substrate-induced respiration (SIR) and Biolog plates to characterize microbial catabolic profiles in a chronosequence of soil samples from 15 unreclaimed post-mining sites in Sokolov, Czech Republic. The sites had been undergoing spontaneous succession for 3 to 45 years. Biolog ECO plates included 31 substrates. Of substrates used for SIR (glucose, chitin, cellulose, Tween 80, phenylethylamine, N-acetyl-D-glucosamine, L-asparagine, D-mannitol, D-galacturonic acid, α-cyclodextrin, and 4-hydroxy benzoic acid), eight were also used for the Biolog plates. Soil respiration, total bacteria number, and culturable bacteria number were also measured. The total and culturable number of bacteria increased with site age (p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, respectively). The percentage of culturable bacteria decreased with site age (p < 0.01). Biolog analysis indicated that average well-color development (AWCD), evenness, and richness increased with site age. SIR data indicated that only average activities tended to increase with site age (p = 0.06). According to redundancy analysis (RDA), the eight substrates, which were commonly used in both methods (SIR and BIOLOG) explained 74.4% of the variation of data from all Biolog substrates. Among the eight substrates common to both methods, only data for N-acetyl-D-glucosamine were positively correlated (p < 0.01) between Biolog and SIR. Both methods revealed microbial catabolic profile changed along the chronosequence. PCA indicated that site age, soil carbon, and pH were the most important drivers of microbial catabolic profiles. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Decomposition of Forest Litter and Feces of Armadillidium vulgare (Isopoda: Oniscidea) Produced from the Same Litter Affected by Temperature and Litter Quality
Forests 2019, 10(11), 939; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10110939 - 23 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
To explore the question how litter and macrofauna feces respond to temperature and how respiration differs for litter with a different CN ratio, we compared the decomposition rates of leaf litter (Alnus glutinosa, Salix caprea, and Acer campestre) and [...] Read more.
To explore the question how litter and macrofauna feces respond to temperature and how respiration differs for litter with a different CN ratio, we compared the decomposition rates of leaf litter (Alnus glutinosa, Salix caprea, and Acer campestre) and isopod (Armadillidium vulgare) feces produced from the same litter in response to three constant (8, 16, and 24 °C) and one fluctuating (first week 8 °C, the other week 24 °C) temperatures in a 50 week laboratory experiment and in a field trial. Microbial respiration of litter with lower CN ratio (alder and willow) was significantly higher than respiration of feces, no significant difference was found for maple litter with higher CN ratio. This was supported by field litter bag experiments where alder and willow litter decomposed faster than feces but the opposite was true for maple litter. Litter respiration was significantly affected by temperature but feces respiration was not. Fluctuating temperature caused either lower or equal respiration as compared to mean constant temperature. The content of phenolics was significantly higher in intact litter in comparison with decomposed litter and feces, either fresh or decomposed. The CN ratio decreased as litter turned to feces in maple and alder litter but increased in willow litter. In conclusion, microbial respiration of both litter and feces were substantially affected by litter quality; the litter was more sensitive to temperature than feces. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Thinning on Microbial Community Structure in the Organic Horizon of Chinese Pine Plantations in Badaling, Beijing, China
Forests 2019, 10(10), 828; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10100828 - 20 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Research Highlights: Moderate thinning can effectively improve forestry production and change the microenvironment of understory vegetation. Background and Objectives: Microbial communities control the decomposition and transformation of forest organic matter; however, the influence of thinning on microbes in the organic horizon [...] Read more.
Research Highlights: Moderate thinning can effectively improve forestry production and change the microenvironment of understory vegetation. Background and Objectives: Microbial communities control the decomposition and transformation of forest organic matter; however, the influence of thinning on microbes in the organic horizon remains unclear. Materials and Methods: In this study, we subjected four plots of Chinese pine plantations in Badaling, Beijing to different thinning intensities, including no thinning (T0), low-intensity thinning (T10), medium-intensity thinning (T20), and high-intensity thinning (T50). The changes in chemical properties and microbial community compositions observed in the organic horizon, which comprised undecomposed litter (L layer) and half-decomposed litter (F layer), were analyzed after thinning. Microbial community compositions were evaluated using phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) methods. Results: The results showed that the abundances of gram-negative bacteria (GN) and total bacteria (B) under the T10 thinning condition were the highest among the four thinning intensities, and the abundance of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in T20 was higher than under other thinning intensities. The abundance of gram-positive bacteria (GP) and actinobacteria (ACT) in T10 was lower than in both T0 and T50. The abundance of total PLFAs and fungi (FU) was higher in the L layer, whereas the abundance of GP, GN, B, ACT, and AMF was higher in the F layer. Conclusions: Our results demonstrated that the L layer better reflects the influence of thinning on litter. Redundancy analysis (RDA) results indicated that the organic carbon (LOC), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and ammonium nitrogen (NH4+-N)contents of litter were primarily responsible for the observed changes in microbial community structure, with LOC alone explaining 62.6% of the total variance among the litter substrate factors selected. Overall, moderate-intensity thinning of Pinus tabulaeformis Carr. plantations created more favorable conditions for microbial communities in the organic horizon. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Prolonging Rotation of Chinese Fir to over 25 Years Could Maintain a Better Soil Status in Subtropical China
Forests 2019, 10(8), 629; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10080629 - 27 Jul 2019
Abstract
Although Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata (Lamb.) Hook) is an important species for wood production in subtropical China, it serious declines in soil nutrients and timber productivity in plantations have been reported, probably caused by successive rotation and inappropriate cutting time. Although the [...] Read more.
Although Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata (Lamb.) Hook) is an important species for wood production in subtropical China, it serious declines in soil nutrients and timber productivity in plantations have been reported, probably caused by successive rotation and inappropriate cutting time. Although the significant effect of stand age on soil properties has been widely recognized, research on soil enzymes and microbial communities is relatively rare. In this study, assuming that short rotation period is one important reason for soil degradation, we measured soil physicochemical properties, microbial community composition, and enzyme activity in 3-, 15-, 25- and 45-year Chinese fir forests in Jiangxi province of China. Soil organic carbon (SOC) content decreased from 3-year to 25-year stands and then increased in 45-year stands. Despite the significant relationship between SOC and the abundance of total phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs), no notable changes in the abundance of PLFAs were detected with increasing tree ages, except for the abundances of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) which were significantly higher in 25-year stands. However, the ratios of gram-positive to gram-negative bacteria (G+/G−) and fungi to bacteria (F/B) both decreased with increasing stand age. 45-year stands showed the highest activities of both phosphatase and β-glucosidase. Total potassium (TK) content and net N mineralization rate both had significant links with soil microbial community structure. Collectively, our study emphasized that stand age could significantly affect soil physicochemical properties and the microbial community. In general, 25-year stands showed poorer soil status compared to that of 45-year stands. Thus, the cutting age of Chinese fir should be increased to over 25 years to maintain a better soil status. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Soil Organic Carbon Chemical Functional Groups under Different Revegetation Types Are Coupled with Changes in the Microbial Community Composition and the Functional Genes
Forests 2019, 10(3), 240; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10030240 - 08 Mar 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Different revegetatiom types can affect the chemical composition of soil organic carbon (SOC), soil microbial community and the functional genes related to carbon cycle. However, the relationships between SOC chemical functional groups and soil microbial communities and the functional genes remains poorly unclear [...] Read more.
Different revegetatiom types can affect the chemical composition of soil organic carbon (SOC), soil microbial community and the functional genes related to carbon cycle. However, the relationships between SOC chemical functional groups and soil microbial communities and the functional genes remains poorly unclear under different revegetation types. Using the solid-state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, we examined changes in the SOC chemical composition of five soils (0–10 cm depth) from Larix gmelinii Rupr. (LG), Pinus koraiensis Sieb. (PK), Quercus mongolica Fisch. (QM), Juglans mandshurica Maxim. (JM), and conifer-broadleaf forest (CB). And the soil microbial community genes related to metabolism of macro-molecular compounds were determined via whole genome shotgun based on Illumina HiSeq. Our results indicated that broadleaf forests (JM, QM) had increased the contents of soil total carbon (C), total nitrogen (N), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and microbial biomass carbon (MBC), compared with coniferous forests (LG, PK) and the conifer-broadleaf forest (CB). While, the coniferous forests generated a lower O-alcoxyl C, a higher alkyl C, and the ratio of alkyl C/O-alkyl C than broadleaf forests. A total of four kingdoms were identified via whole metagenome shotgun sequencing, including eight archaea, 55 bacteria, 15 eukaryota, and two viruses, giving a total 80 phyla. The contents of alkyne C, phenolic C, methoxyl C, COO/NC=O, and alkyl C were strong related to the composition of soil microbial community and their contents illuminated a major part of the variation in soil microbial composition. We detected seven corresponding macro-molecular compounds of different organic carbon functional group, and 244 genes related to metabolism across all samples, and soil total C, total N, and DOC could be the main factors for microbial functional gene composition. Interestingly, the relative abundances of different SOC chemical functional groups, the phylogenetic distance for microbes, the genes of C cycling based on the KEGG database, and the relative abundance of genes related to metabolism of macro-molecular compounds of different SOC chemical functional groups under different revegetation types all could be divided into three groups, including PK plus LG, JM plus QM, and CB. Our results also illustrated that variations in SOC chemical functional groups were strongly associated with changes of soil microbial community taxa and functional genes, which might be affected by the changes of soil characteristics. Full article
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