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Microbial biomass and activity in soil and litter under Pinus sylvestris, Picea abies and Betula pendula at originally similar field afforestation sites


, : Microbial biomass and activity in soil and litter under Pinus sylvestris, Picea abies and Betula pendula at originally similar field afforestation sites. Biology and fertility of soils4(1): 45-51

Microbial biomass C and N, and activities related to C and N cycles, were compared in needle and leaf litter, and in the uppermost 10 cm of soil under the litter layer in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), Norway spruce (Picea abies L.) and silver birch (Betula pendula L.) stands, planted on originally similar field afforestation sites 23-24 years ago. The ground vegetation was differentiated under different tree species, consisting of grasses and herbs under birch and pine, and mosses or no vegetation with a thick layer of needles under spruce. The C:N ratio of the soils was 13-21 and the soil pH(CaCl2) 3.8-5.2. Both showed little variation under different tree species. Microbial biomass C and N, C mineralization, net ammonification, net nitrification and N2-fixing activity (acetylene reduction) did not differ significantly in soil under different tree species either. Birch leaf litter had a higher pH(CaCl2) (5.9) than spruce and pine needle litter (pH 5.0 and 4.8, respectively). The C:N ratio of spruce needles was 30, and was considerably higher in pine needles (69) and birch leaves (54). Birch leaves tended to have the highest microbial biomass C and C mineralization. Spruce needles appeared to have the highest microbial biomass N and net formation of mineral N, whereas formation of mineral N in pine needles and birch leaves was negligible. Microbial biomass C and N were of the same order of magnitude in the soil and litter samples but C mineralization was tenfold higher in the litter samples.

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