Document Detail

Untangling the biological contributions to soil stability in semiarid shrublands.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  19323176     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Communities of plants, biological soil crusts (BSCs), and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are known to influence soil stability individually, but their relative contributions, interactions, and combined effects are not well understood, particularly in arid and semiarid ecosystems. In a landscape-scale field study we quantified plant, BSC, and AM fungal communities at 216 locations along a gradient of soil stability levels in southern Utah, USA. We used multivariate modeling to examine the relative influences of plants, BSCs, and AM fungi on surface and subsurface stability in a semiarid shrubland landscape. Models were found to be congruent with the data and explained 35% of the variation in surface stability and 54% of the variation in subsurface stability. The results support several tentative conclusions. While BSCs, plants, and AM fungi all contribute to surface stability, only plants and AM fungi contribute to subsurface stability. In both surface and subsurface models, the strongest contributions to soil stability are made by biological components of the system. Biological soil crust cover was found to have the strongest direct effect on surface soil stability (0.60; controlling for other factors). Surprisingly, AM fungi appeared to influence surface soil stability (0.37), even though they are not generally considered to exist in the top few millimeters of the soil. In the subsurface model, plant cover appeared to have the strongest direct influence on soil stability (0.42); in both models, results indicate that plant cover influences soil stability both directly (controlling for other factors) and indirectly through influences on other organisms. Soil organic matter was not found to have a direct contribution to surface or subsurface stability in this system. The relative influence of AM fungi on soil stability in these semiarid shrublands was similar to that reported for a mesic tallgrass prairie. Estimates of effects that BSCs, plants, and AM fungi have on soil stability in these models are used to suggest the relative amounts of resources that erosion control practitioners should devote to promoting these communities. This study highlights the need for system approaches in combating erosion, soil degradation, and arid-land desertification.
V Bala Chaudhary; Matthew A Bowker; Thomas E O'Dell; James B Grace; Andrea E Redman; Matthias C Rillig; Nancy C Johnson
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America     Volume:  19     ISSN:  1051-0761     ISO Abbreviation:  Ecol Appl     Publication Date:  2009 Jan 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2009-03-27     Completed Date:  2009-04-21     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9889808     Medline TA:  Ecol Appl     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  110-22     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff Arizona 86011-5640, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Conservation of Natural Resources
Invertebrates / physiology
Soil Microbiology
Reg. No./Substance:

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