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Grazing effects on microbial community composition, growth and nutrient cycling in salt marsh and sand dune grasslands

Ford, H.; Rousk, J.; Garbutt, A.; Jones, L.; Jones, D.L.. 2013 Grazing effects on microbial community composition, growth and nutrient cycling in salt marsh and sand dune grasslands. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 49 (1). 89-98. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00374-012-0721-2

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Abstract/Summary

The effect of grazing by large herbivores on the microbial community and the ecosystem functions they provide are relatively unknown in grassland systems. In this study, the impact of grazing upon the size, composition and activity of the soil microbial community was measured in field experiments in two coastal ecosystems: one salt marsh and one sand dune grassland. Bacterial, fungal and total microbial biomass were not systematically affected by grazing across ecosystems, although, within an ecosystem, differences could be detected. Fungal-to-bacterial ratio did not differ with grazing for either habitat. Redundancy analysis showed that soil moisture, bulk density and root biomass significantly explained the composition of phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) markers, dominated by the distinction between the two grassland habitats, but where the grazing effect could also be resolved. PLFA markers for Gram-positive bacteria were more proportionally abundant in un-grazed, and markers for Gram-negative bacteria in grazed grasslands. Bacterial growth rate (leucine incorporation) was highest in un-grazed salt marsh but did not vary with grazing intensity in the sand dune grassland. We conclude that grazing consistently affects the composition of the soil microbial community in seminatural grasslands but that its influence is small (7 % of the total variation in PLFA composition), compared with differences between grassland types (89 %). The relatively small effect of grazing translated to small effects on measurements of soil microbial functions, including N and C mineralisation. This study is an early step toward assessing consequences of land-use change for global nutrient cycles driven by the microbial community.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1007/s00374-012-0721-2
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 1 - Observations, Patterns, and Predictions for Biodiversity > BD - 1.3 - Long-term/large-scale monitoring and experiments ...
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 1 - Observations, Patterns, and Predictions for Biodiversity > BD - 1.4 - Quantify and model interactions to determine impacts ...
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry > BGC Topic 2 - Biogeochemistry and Climate System Processes > BGC - 2.1 - Quantify & model processes that control the emission, fate and bioavailability of pollutants
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry > BGC Topic 2 - Biogeochemistry and Climate System Processes
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 2 - Ecohydrological Processes > WA - 2.1 - Identify and quantify sources, fluxes and pathways of water, chemicals ...
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Emmett
ISSN: 0178-2762
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: The final publication is available at link.springer.com
Additional Keywords: livestock grazing, decomposer ecology, bacterial growth rate, PLFAs, nutrient cycling
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Ecology and Environment
Hydrology
Date made live: 01 Feb 2013 12:58 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/21238

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