2022 journal article
Forest floor manipulation effects on the relationship between aggregate stability and ectomycorrhizal fungi
FOREST ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT, 505.
Forest floor and mineral soil manipulations influence the soil biogeochemical properties important for loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) tree growth. The impacts of forest floor manipulations on soil aggregate stability and the presence of ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF), was assessed to elucidate the relationship between EMF abundance and aggregate stability. The study site consists of a 14-year-old loblolly pine plantation managed by Weyerhaeuser Company in the Lower Coastal Plain, approximately 8 miles east of New Bern, North Carolina, USA. The soil samples were collected from the top 7.62 cm of each soil treatment which includes three levels of forest floor retention: removed, control, and doubled and two levels of forest floor mixing with the mineral soil: mixed and unmixed. Ectomycorrhizal fungi abundance was evaluated by ester-linked fatty acid methyl ester analysis and microbial community functionality was assessed by acid-phosphatase activity measurement. Aggregate stability was assessed using the aggregate mean weight diameter approach. Results indicate that the forest floor manipulations had no significant impact on aggregate stability and EMF abundance. However, a positive relationship between EMF abundance and aggregate stability was identified. Removing the forest floor resulted in a soil bulk density increase of 0.18 g cm−3 compared to doubling the forest floor. Our results demonstrate that some mineral soil properties recover relatively quickly from forest floor manipulations. The study informs forest managers interested in how soil responds to forest floor manipulation and the interaction between EMF and aggregate stability.