Microbial biomass and activities in partly hydromorphic agricultural and forest soils in the Bornhöved Lake region of Northern Germany

O. Dilly, J. C. Munch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

The soil microbial biomass and activity were estimated for seven field (intensive and extensive management), grassland (dry and wet), and forest (beech, dry and wet alder) sites. Three of the sites (wet grassland, dry and wet alder) are located on a lakeshore and are influenced by lake water and groundwater. Four different methods were selected to measure and characterize the microbial biomass. Values of microbial biomass (weight basis) and total microbial biomass per upper horizon and hectare (volume basis) were compared for each site. Fumigation-extraction and substrate-induced respiration results were correlated but dit not give the same absolute values for microbial biomass content. When using the original conversion factors, substrate-induced respiration gave higher values in field and dry grassland soils, and fumigation-extraction higher values in soils with low pH and high water levels (high organic content). Results from dimethylsulfoxide reduction and arginine ammonification, two methods for estimating microbial activity, were not correlated with microbial biomass values determined by fumigation-extraction or substrate-induced respiration in all soils examined. In alder forest soils dimethylsulfoxide reduction and arginine ammonification gave higher values on the wet site than on the dry site, contrary to the values estimated by fumigation-extraction and substrate-induced respiration. These microbial activities were correlated with microbial biomass values only in field and dry grassland soils. Based on soil dry weight, microbial biomass values increased in the order intensive field, beech forest, extensive field, dry grassland, alder forest, wet grassland. However, microbial biomass values per upper horizon and hectare (related to soil volume) increased in agricultural soils in the order intensive field, dry grassland, extensive field, wet grassland and in forest soils in the order beech, wet alder, dry alder. We conclude that use of the original conversion factors with the soils in the present study for fumigation-extraction and substrate-induced respiration measurements does not give the same values for the microbial biomass. Furthermore, dimethylsulfoxide reduction and arginine ammonification principally characterize specific microbial activities and can be correlated with microbial biomass values under specific soil conditions. Further improvements in microbial biomass estimates, particularly in waterlogged soils, may be obtained by direct counts of organisms, ATP estimate, and the use of 14C-labelled organic substrates. From the ecological viewpoint, data should also be expressed per horizon and hectare (related to soil volume) to assist in the comparison of different sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-347
Number of pages5
JournalBiology and Fertility of Soils
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1995
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Agricultural soils
  • Ecosystem research
  • Forest soils
  • Microbial activities
  • Microbial biomass

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