Canadian Forest Service Publications

Microbial respiration and biomass (substrate-induced respiration) in soils of old-growth and regenerating forests on northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. 1996. Chang, S.X.; Trofymow, J.A. Biology and Fertility of Soils 23: 145-152.

Year: 1996

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 5400

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1007/BF00336055

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In studying the basal respiration, microbial biomass (substrate-induced respiration, SIR), and metabolic quotient (qCO2) in western redcedar (Thuja plicata Donn ex D. Don)-western hemlock [(Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg.] ecosystems (old-growth forests, 3- and 10-year-old plantations) on northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, we predicted that (1) soil basal respiration would be reduced by harvesting and burning, reflecting the reduction in microbial biomass and activities; (2) the microbial biomass would be reduced by harvesting and slash-burning, due to the excessive heat of the burning or due to reduced substrate availability; (3) microbial biomass in the plantations would tend to recover to the pre-harvesting levels with growth of the trees and increased substrate availability; and (4) microbial biomass measured by the SIR method would compare well with that measured by the fumigation-extraction (FE) method. Decaying litter layer (F), woody F (Fw) and humus layer (H) materials were sampled four times in the summer of 1992. The results obtained supported the four predictions. Microbial biomass was reduced in the harvested and slash-burned plots. Both SIR and FE methods provided equally good estimates of microbial biomass in the samples [SIR microbial C (mg g-1)=0.227+0.458 FE microbial C (mg g-1), r=0.63, P=0.0001] and proved suitable for microbial biomass measurements in this strongly acidic soil. Basal respiration was significantly greater in the old-growth forests than in the young plantations (P<0.05) in both F and H layers, but not in the Fw layer. For the 3- and 10-year-old plantations, there was no difference in basal respiration in F, Fw, and H layers. Basal respiration was related to changes in air temperature, precipitation, and the soil moisture content at the time of sampling. The qCO2 values were higher in the old-growth stands than in the plantations. Clear-cutting followed by prescribed burning did not increase soil microbial respiration, but CO2 released from slash-burning and that contributed from other sources may be of concern to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations.