Soil biology & biochemistry, 2010, Vol.42, pp.155-161
In alpine environments, climate change may alter vegetation composition as well as the quantity and quality of plant litter, which in turn may affect microbial community composition and functioning. In this study, we analyzed soil microbial community composition and its activity along a vegetation gradient (900–1900 m above sea level (a.s.l.)) in the Austrian Limestone Alps. Soil pH and C:N ratios were significantly different under different plant communities and ranged from 3.9 to 6.1 and from 29 to 17, respectively. The highest amounts of microbial biomass, estimated by the sum of microbial phospholipid fatty acids (total PLFAs), were found at sites with high pH and low C:N ratio, i.e. in alpine grassland and beech forest sites (3.9 ± 0.05 and 3.4 ± 0.7 μmol per g organic carbon (OC), respectively), and the lowest amounts were found at sites with low pH and high C:N ratio, i.e. sites with high percentage of conifers and acidophilic vegetation (around 2 μmol (g OC)−1). Total and bacterial PLFAs as well as microbial activity (dimethyl sulphoxide reduction) did not show consistent altitudinal trends. The fungal PLFA 18:2ω6,9 was significantly higher in the forest sites (between 9.2 and 6.7 mol%) compared to the shrubland and grassland sites (between 4.5 and 2.3 mol%). A similar trend was found for ergosterol contents. As a consequence, the bacterial to fungal biomass ratio increased significantly from forest sites to shrubland and grassland sites. Expected future upward migration of the tree line in alpine environments in response to climate warming will therefore increase the abundance of fungi in these ecosystems. ; Includes references ; p. 155-161.
Soil Bacteria ; Soil Ph ; Alpine Plants ; Altitude ; Vegetation ; Soil Ecology ; Climate Change ; Plant Litter ; Shrublands ; Spatial Variation ; Mountains ; Soil Microorganisms ; Soil Fungi ; Montane Forests ; Plant Communities ; Grasslands ; Carbon Nitrogen Ratio ; Microbial Activity ; Ecological Function ; Microbial Ecology
AGRIS (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
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