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Soil Biology and Biochemistry
Vol. 90, 2015, Pages: 80–86

The effects of N and P additions on soil microbial properties in paired stands of temperate secondary forests and adjacent larch plantations in Northeast China

Kai Yang, Jiaojun Zhu

State Key Laboratory of Forest and Soil Ecology, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110164, PR China.


The conversion of secondary forests to larch plantations in Northeast China has resulted in a significant decline in soil available nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), and thus affects plant productivity and ecosystem functioning. Microbes play a key role in the recycling of soil nutrients; in turn, the availability of soil N and P can constrain microbial activity. However, there is little information on the relationships between available soil N and P and the microbial biomass and activity in larch plantation soil. We studied the responses of soil microbial respiration, microbial biomass and activity to N and P additions in a 120-day laboratory incubation experiment and assessed soil microbial properties in larch plantation soil by comparing them with the soil of an adjacent secondary forest. We found that the N-containing treatments (N and N + P) increased the concentrations of soil microbial biomass N and soluble organic N, whereas the same treatments did not affect microbial respiration and the activities of β-glucosidase, N-acetyl-β-glucosaminidase and acid phosphatase in the larch plantation. In addition, the concentration of microbial biomass P decreased with N addition in larch plantation soil. In contrast, N and N + P additions decreased microbial respiration, and N addition also decreased the activity of N-acetyl-β-glucosaminidase in the secondary forest soil. The P treatment did not affect microbial respiration in either larch plantation or secondary forest soils, while this treatment increased the activities of β-glucosidase and acid phosphatase in the secondary forest soil. These results suggested that microbial respiration was not limited by available P in either secondary forest or larch plantation soils, but microbial activity may have a greater P demand in secondary forest soil than in larch plantation soil. Overall, there was no evidence, at least in the present experiment, supporting the possibility that microbes suffered from N or P deficiency in larch plantation soil.

Keywords: Larch plantation; Microbial biomass; Microbial respiration; N and P availability; Secondary forest; Soil enzymes.

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