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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Carla Giai; Ralph E. J. Boerner
Publication Date: 2007

As a result of many decades of fire suppression and atmospheric deposition the deciduous forests of eastern North America have changed significantly in stem density, basal area, tree size-frequency distribution, and community structure. Consequently, soil organic matter quality and quantity, nutrient availability, and microbial activity have likely been altered. This study evaluated the effects of four alternative forest ecosystem restoration strategies on soil microbial activity, microbial functional diversity, soil organic C, and soil N status in two mixed-oak (Quercus spp.) forests in southern Ohio, USA. The soils of these forests were sampledduring the fourth growing season after application of (1) prescribed fire, (2) thinning of the understory and midstory to presettlement characteristics, (3) the combination of fire and thinning, and (4) an untreated control. Prescribed fire, with or without thinning, resulted in increased bacterial but not fungal activity when assessed using Biolog. In contrast, assays of acid phosphatase and phenol oxidase activity indicated greater microbial activity in the thinning treatment than in the other three treatments. Functional diversity of both bacteria and fungi was affected by restoration treatment, with the bacterial and fungal assemblages present in the thin + burn sites and the fungal assemblage present in the thinned sites differing significantly from those of the controland burned sites. Treatments did not result in significant differences in soil organic C content among experimental sites; however, the soil C:N ratio was significantly greater in thinned sites than in sites given the other three treatments. Similarly, there were no significant differences in dissolve inorganic N, dissolved organic N, or microbial biomass N among treatments. Bacterial and fungal functional diversity was altered significantly. Based on Biolog1 utilization treatments the bacterial assemblage in the thin-only treatment appeared to be relatively N-limited and the fungal assemblage relatively C-limited, whereas in the thin + burn treatment this was reversed. Although effects of restoration treatments on soil organic matter and overall microbial activity may not persist through the fourth post-treatment year, effects on microbial functional diversity are persistent.

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Citation: Giai, Carla; Boerner, Ralph E. 2007. Effects of ecological restoration on microbial activity, microbial functional diversity, and soil organic matter in mixed-oak forests of southern Ohio, USA. Applied Soil Ecology 35(2):281-290.

Cataloging Information

  • bacteria
  • biomass
  • C - carbon
  • Carya
  • chemical compounds
  • deciduous forest
  • distribution
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • enzymes
  • fire management
  • fire suppression
  • forest management
  • fungi
  • hardwood forest
  • microbial activity
  • microbial diversity
  • microorganisms
  • mixed-oak forests
  • N - nitrogen
  • Ohio
  • organic matter
  • pH
  • population density
  • Quercus alba
  • Quercus prinus
  • Quercus spp.
  • Quercus velutina
  • season of fire
  • size classes
  • soil enzymes
  • soil organic matter
  • soil organic matter
  • soils
  • suppression
  • thinning
Tall Timbers Record Number: 21317Location Status: In-fileCall Number: Fire FileAbstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission
JFSP Project Number(s):
  • 99-S-01
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 202

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by Tall Timbers and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of Tall Timbers.