Effects of common oak (Quercus robur L.) defolition on the soil properties of an oak forest in Western Plain of Romania
Keywords:forest ecosystems, forest soils, defoliated oak forests, soil microorganisms
AbstractThis study was conducted to evaluate the variability of the chemical properties of the soil of an oak forest affected by defoliation and the corresponding microbial abundance. Soil samples were collected from a control zone (zone 1) without outbreaks of defoliating insects and from a sample zone (zone 2) where the trees were affected by Lymantria dispar L. defoliation. The research was conducted to determine the changed conditions for soil microorganisms produced as a consequence of defoliation. The results indicated, by means of analysis of variance (two-way ANOVA, P = 0.05), statistically significant differences (P < 0.0001) with respect to soil hydrolytic acidity, pH, ammonium nitrogen, heterotrophic bacteria, nitrogen fixing bacteria from genus Azotobacter and fungi. The data revealed a low number of heterotrophic bacteria and low pH values in samples taken from the area affected by defoliation. Soils under stands of defoliated trees showed higher values with respect to soil acidity, ammonium nitrogen, fungi and nitrogen fixing bacteria Azotobacter. Moreover, the soil moisture, nitrate nitrogen, organic matter content, organic carbon, the number of heterotrophic bacteria and the number of bacteria from genus Azotobacter exhibited statistically significant seasonal differences between the two zones studied. The correlations between the tested parameters showed that soil parameters such as moisture content, soil acidity, pH, organic matter content, organic carbon, total nitrogen and nitrate nitrogen are important factors influencing the soil populations of aerobic mesophilic heterotrophic bacteria, fungi and nitrogen fixing bacteria in the studied forest ecosystem.
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