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Special Issue "Forest Soil Microbe and Biogeochemical Cycling: Biogeochemical Processes in Forest Soils"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 April 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Alessandra Lagomarsino

Consiglio per la Ricerca in Agricoltura e l'analisi dell'economia agraria (CREA) Research Centre for Agrobiology and Pedology (CREA-ABP) Via di Lanciola 12 50125 Firenze, Italy
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Guest Editor
Dr. Roberta Pastorelli

Consiglio per la Ricerca in Agricoltura e l'analisi dell'economia agraria (CREA) Research Centre for Agrobiology and Pedology (CREA-ABP) Via di Lanciola 12 50125 Firenze, Italy
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Guest Editor
Dr. Alberto Agnelli

Università di Perugia, Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari e Ambientali, Unità di Pedologia Borgo XX Giugno 74, 06121 Perugia
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Biotic control of organic matter cycling is key in forest ecosystems: Energy flux through microbial biomass is the driving force for the decomposition of residue and detritus material and determines the direction and magnitude of carbon and nitrogen transformation.

Microbial processes transferring matter from a pool to another can determine whether the system is building or depleting organic matter pools, with implications for climate change mitigation potential of forest ecosystems.

Forest management and climate changes may strongly affect the components and mechanisms (i.e., organic carbon pools and their decomposition) driving biogeochemical cycling, thus more information are needed to understand and improve the general responses of forest ecosystems.

A comprehensive view of interrelated feedbacks among biological, chemical and physical processes, including the role of microbial populations and processes has rarely been completely addressed. Moreover, in spite of several studies on carbon storage and CO2 emissions, a lack of information still exist on the magnitude of CH4 and N2O fluxes from forest soils and the role of microbial communities involved in green-house gas production.

We encourage studies from all fields, including experimental studies, monitoring approaches and theoretical models, to contribute to this Special Issue in order to promote knowledge and strategies on forest ecosystems.

Dr. Alessandra Lagomarsino
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Green-house gas emissions
  • Organic matter decomposition
  • Microbial composition
  • Soil functionality
  • Carbon Sequestration
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Forest Management
  • Carbon pools

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Response of Soil CO2 Efflux to Water Limitation Is Not Merely a Climatic Issue: The Role of Substrate Availability
Forests 2017, 8(7), 241; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8070241
Received: 22 April 2017 / Revised: 25 June 2017 / Accepted: 4 July 2017 / Published: 7 July 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (5261 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Water availability, together with temperature, represents the most limiting abiotic factor regulating soil CO2 efflux (SR). Besides the direct effect of water limitation, drought also influences plant activity, determining changes in the quality and quantity of root exudates, thus indirectly affecting soil [...] Read more.
Water availability, together with temperature, represents the most limiting abiotic factor regulating soil CO2 efflux (SR). Besides the direct effect of water limitation, drought also influences plant activity, determining changes in the quality and quantity of root exudates, thus indirectly affecting soil microbial activity. To determine how the seasonal changes of plant activity and soil microbial metabolism and structure affect SR response to drought, we investigated the correlation between leaf gas exchange, soil carbon pools and soil respiration sources and the role of soil carbon pools on microbial populations and soil respiration, in a summer deciduous Mediterranean (SDS) and a winter deciduous temperate (WDS) shrublands, experiencing a dry summer period. In both sites, drought reduced photosynthesis, but affected SR differently: in SDS, SR decreased, although microbial heterotrophic respiration (SRh) remained unchanged; in WDS, SR did not vary but SRh was reduced. While in SDS the microbial community was able to respire more complex substrates, in WDS it was strongly dependent on easily decomposable molecules, thus on plant activity. Therefore, the response of soil CO2 efflux to water limitation is not exclusively influenced by climate as it is modulated by the degree of adaptation of the microbial community to drought. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Analysis of Microbial Diversity and Greenhouse Gas Production of Decaying Pine Logs
Forests 2017, 8(7), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8070224
Received: 21 April 2017 / Revised: 14 June 2017 / Accepted: 23 June 2017 / Published: 27 June 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1147 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
In Sustainable Forest Management, decaying wood plays an important role in forest biodiversity, carbon balance and nutrient cycling. The management of this important component of forest ecosystems is limited by the fact that little is known about relationships between substrate quality and community [...] Read more.
In Sustainable Forest Management, decaying wood plays an important role in forest biodiversity, carbon balance and nutrient cycling. The management of this important component of forest ecosystems is limited by the fact that little is known about relationships between substrate quality and community structure of wood-inhabiting microorganisms. During decomposition, carbon stored in deadwood is lost either in the atmosphere or in the soil, but to our knowledge, limited information on the quantities of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted is available. In the present research we investigated the correlation between the decay of logs, the decomposer microorganisms and their activities, in terms of GHG production and enzymes, in a black pine (Pinus nigra Arnold ssp. nigra) degraded forest. The decomposition of deadwood was visually assessed using a five-class system, and for each decay class four wood samples were collected. CO2, CH4 and N2O potential production from each decay class was measured in closed systems by means of gas chromatography. Enzyme activities related to carbon, nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus cycling were measured fluorometrically. The composition of decomposer microbial communities (fungi, bacteria and actinobacteria) was assessed by using polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis fingerprinting. CO2 production and enzyme activities were significantly higher in the last decay classes of deadwood. The molecular approach highlighted differences in microbial community structure both at species and abundance levels, depending on the rate of decay. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Changes in Soil Biochemical Properties in a Cedar Plantation Invaded by Moso Bamboo
Forests 2017, 8(7), 222; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8070222
Received: 19 May 2017 / Revised: 21 June 2017 / Accepted: 21 June 2017 / Published: 23 June 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1256 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Moso bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis) is one of the widely growing bamboo species in Asia. Because of its fast growth and aggressive rhizomes, it is reported to invade other forests and reduce the biodiversity of forest ecosystems. To determine the changes in soil nutrient [...] Read more.
Moso bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis) is one of the widely growing bamboo species in Asia. Because of its fast growth and aggressive rhizomes, it is reported to invade other forests and reduce the biodiversity of forest ecosystems. To determine the changes in soil nutrient conditions due to moso bamboo invasion, this research measured the difference in soil labile carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) contents in a Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) forest invaded by moso bamboo in central Taiwan. The content of soluble organic C (SbOC), measured by both KCl and hot-water extraction methods, was lower in bamboo than cedar soils. This observation agreed with the finding that the more easily decomposed SbOC could be lost with bamboo invasion. In addition, both SbOCKCl and SbOCHW contents were positively correlated with microbial biomass C content, so the decreased labile organic C content in bamboo soils may reduce microbial biomass production. Principal component analysis revealed soil organic C content (total organic C, SbOC and acid-hydrolysable C) as the most important soil parameter affected by the bamboo invasion, followed by microbial biomass N and NO3− contents in soils. The soil quality index model also agreed with the degraded soil quality with bamboo invasion. In conclusion, the invasion of moso bamboo reduced the C and N pools in bamboo soil and degraded the overall soil quality. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Influence of Altitude on Biochemical Properties of European Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) Forest Soils
Forests 2017, 8(6), 213; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8060213
Received: 5 May 2017 / Revised: 5 June 2017 / Accepted: 13 June 2017 / Published: 17 June 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1416 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Drivers of Plot-Scale Variability of CH4 Consumption in a Well-Aerated Pine Forest Soil
Forests 2017, 8(6), 193; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8060193
Received: 7 April 2017 / Revised: 30 May 2017 / Accepted: 31 May 2017 / Published: 3 June 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (3313 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
While differences in greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes between ecosystems can be explained to a certain degree, variability of the same at the plot scale is still challenging. We investigated the spatial variability in soil-atmosphere fluxes of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH [...] Read more.
While differences in greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes between ecosystems can be explained to a certain degree, variability of the same at the plot scale is still challenging. We investigated the spatial variability in soil-atmosphere fluxes of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) to find out what drives spatial variability on the plot scale. Measurements were carried out in a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) forest in a former floodplain on a 250 m2 plot, divided in homogenous strata of vegetation and soil texture. Soil gas fluxes were measured consecutively at 60 points along transects to cover the spatial variability. One permanent chamber was measured repeatedly to monitor temporal changes to soil gas fluxes. The observed patterns at this control chamber were used to standardize the gas fluxes to disentangle temporal variability from the spatial variability of measured GHG fluxes. Concurrent measurements of soil gas diffusivity allowed deriving in situ methanotrophic activity from the CH4 flux measurements. The soil emitted CO2 and consumed CH4 and N2O. Significantly different fluxes of CH4 and CO2 were found for the different soil-vegetation strata, but not for N2O. Soil CH4 consumption increased with soil gas diffusivity within similar strata supporting the hypothesis that CH4 consumption by soils is limited by the supply with atmospheric CH4. Methane consumption in the vegetation strata with dominant silty texture was higher at a given soil gas diffusivity than in the strata with sandy texture. The same pattern was observed for methanotrophic activity, indicating better habitats for methantrophs in silt. Methane consumption increased with soil respiration in all strata. Similarly, methanotrophic activity increased with soil respiration when the individual measurement locations were categorized into silt and sand based on the dominant soil texture, irrespective of the vegetation stratum. Thus, we suggest the rhizosphere and decomposing organic litter might represent or facilitate a preferred habitat for methanotrophic microbes, since rhizosphere and decomposing organic are the source of most of the soil respiration. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Thinning of Beech Forests Stocking on Shallow Calcareous Soil Maintains Soil C and N Stocks in the Long Run
Forests 2017, 8(5), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8050167
Received: 1 February 2017 / Revised: 7 May 2017 / Accepted: 8 May 2017 / Published: 11 May 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1382 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sustainable forest management should avoid disturbance and volatilization of the soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) stocks both under present and projected future climate. Earlier studies have shown that thinning of European beech forests induces a strong initial perturbation of the soil C [...] Read more.
Sustainable forest management should avoid disturbance and volatilization of the soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) stocks both under present and projected future climate. Earlier studies have shown that thinning of European beech forests induces a strong initial perturbation of the soil C and N cycles in shallow Rendzic Leptosol, which consists of lower soil N retention and strongly enhanced gaseous losses observed over several years. Persistence of these effects could decrease soil organic matter (SOM) levels and associated soil functions such as erosion protection, nutrient retention, and fertility. Therefore, we resampled untreated control and thinned stands a decade after thinning at sites representing both typical present day and projected future climatic conditions for European beech forests. We determined soil organic C and total N stocks, as well as δ13C and δ15N as integrators of changes in soil C and N cycles. Thinning did not alter these parameters at any of the sampled sites, indicating that initial effects on soil C and N cycles constitute short-term perturbations. Consequently, thinning may be considered a sustainable beech forest management strategy with regard to the maintenance of soil organic C and total N stocks both under present and future climate. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Distribution of Soil Organic Carbon in Riparian Forest Soils Affected by Frequent Floods (Southern Québec, Canada)
Forests 2017, 8(4), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8040124
Received: 10 February 2017 / Revised: 1 April 2017 / Accepted: 14 April 2017 / Published: 19 April 2017
PDF Full-text (2586 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Measuring soil organic carbon (SOC) in riparian forest soils affected by floods is crucial for evaluating their concentration and distribution along hydrological gradients (longitudinal and transversal). Hydromorphological factors (e.g., sedimentation vs. erosion, size of floodplain, flood recurrence) may be the cause of major [...] Read more.
Measuring soil organic carbon (SOC) in riparian forest soils affected by floods is crucial for evaluating their concentration and distribution along hydrological gradients (longitudinal and transversal). Hydromorphological factors (e.g., sedimentation vs. erosion, size of floodplain, flood recurrence) may be the cause of major variations in the concentration of organic matter and SOC in soils and could have a direct impact on C levels in soil profiles. For this study, SOC concentrations were assessed in riparian soils collected along transects perpendicular to the riverbanks which cross through inundated and non-inundated zones. Other soil properties (e.g., acidity, nitrogen, texture, bulk density) that may affect the concentration of SOC were also considered. The main purpose of this study was to assess SOC concentrations in soils subjected to flooding with those outside the flood zones, and also measure various soil properties (in surface soils and at various depths ranging from 0 to 100 cm) for each selected area. Across the various areas, SOC shows marked differences in concentration and spatial distribution, with the lowest values found in mineral soils affected by successive floods (recurrence of 0–20 years). SOC at 0–20 cm in depth was significantly lower in active floodplains (Tukey HSD test), with average values of 2.29 ± 1.64% compared to non-inundated soils (3.83 ± 2.22%). The proportion of C stocks calculated in soils (inundated vs. non-inundated zones) was significantly different, with average values of 38.22 ± 10.40 and 79.75 ± 29.47 t·ha−1, respectively. Flood frequency appears to be a key factor in understanding the low SOC concentrations in floodplain soils subjected to high flood recurrence (0–20 years). Full article
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Open AccessArticle Soil Microbial Communities in Natural and Managed Cloud Montane Forests
Forests 2017, 8(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8010033
Received: 7 December 2016 / Accepted: 23 January 2017 / Published: 26 January 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1140 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Forest management often results in changes in soil microbial communities. To understand how forest management can change microbial communities, we studied soil microbial abundance and community structure in a natural Chamaecyparis (NCP) forest, a disturbed Chamaecyparis (DCP) forest, a secondary (regenerated) Chamaecyparis (SCP) [...] Read more.
Forest management often results in changes in soil microbial communities. To understand how forest management can change microbial communities, we studied soil microbial abundance and community structure in a natural Chamaecyparis (NCP) forest, a disturbed Chamaecyparis (DCP) forest, a secondary (regenerated) Chamaecyparis (SCP) forest and a secondary (reforested) Cryptomeria (SCD) forest. We analyzed soil microbial abundance by measuring phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) and microbial community structure by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) in the studied forest soils. The content of the soil PLFA fungal biomarker decreased from NCP to SCP, DCP and SCD forest soils, associated with the degree of disturbance of forest management. The ratio of soil Gram positive–to-negative bacteria and the stress index (16:1ω7t to 16:1ω7c) increased from NCP to SCP and DCP soils; thus, disturbed forests except for SCD showed increased soil microbial stress. Principal component analysis of soil microbial groups by PLFAs separated the four forest soils into three clusters: NCP, DCP and SCP, and SCD soil. The DGGE analysis showed no difference in the microbial community structure for NCP, DCP and SCP soils, but the community structure differed between SCD and the three other forest soils. In cloud montane forests, disturbance due to forest management had only a slight influence on the soil microbial community, whereas reforestation with different species largely changed the soil microbial community structure. Full article
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