Response of soil microbial activity to temperature, moisture, and litter leaching on a wetland transect during seasonal refilling
In nutrient impoverished landscapes in southwest Australia, terrestrial litter appears to be important in phosphorus (P) turnover and in the gradual accumulation of P in wetland systems. Little is known about the fate of P leached from litter during the wet season and the associated effects of soil microclimate on microbial activity. The effects of temperature, moisture, and litter leaching on soil microbial activity were studied on a transect across a seasonal wetland in southwestern Australia, after the onset of the wet season. Heterotrophic respiration (CO2 efflux) was higher in the dried lakebed and riparian areas than in upland soils, and higher during the day than at night. There were significant variations in CO2 efflux with time of sampling, largely caused by the effect of temperature. The addition of litter leachate significantly increased CO2 efflux, more significantly in soils from upland sites, which had lower moisture and nutrient contents. There was a difference in response of microbial respiration between upland soils and wetland sediments to litter leachate and wetter, warmer conditions. In general, the litter leachate enhanced heterotrophic microbial respiration, and more significantly at warmer conditions (31 °C). The relative fungal to bacterial ratio was 2.9 – 3.2 for surface litter and 0.7–1.0 for soils, suggesting a fungal dominance in heterotrophic respiration of surface litter, but increased bacterial dominance in soils, especially in exposed sediments in the lakebed.
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