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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Soil Biological Fingerprints from Meadow Steppe and Steppe Communities with Native and Non-Native Vegetation

Authors
item Weddell, Bertie - DRABA CONSULTING
item Frohne, Pamela - USDA-ARS
item KENNEDY, ANN

Submitted to: Bureau of Land Management
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: August 14, 2001
Publication Date: August 14, 2002
Citation: Weddell, B.J., Frohne, P.S. and Kennedy, A.C. Soil biological fingerprints from meadow steppe and steppe communities with native and non-native vegetation. pp. 12-21 In: Restoring Palouse and Canyon Grasslands: Putting back the missing pieces. Bureau of Land Management Report, Cottonwood, ID. Technical Bulletin No. 01-15. 2001.

Interpretive Summary: Restoration of native grasslands will safeguard habitats, improve conditions for wildlife and reduce soil erosion. Organisms in the soil and soil crusts are a critical part of the grassland ecosystem, but little is known about the management of these communities to enhance restoration. We compared the soil microbial communities in various grasslands dominated by non-native and native plants. We found differences between the microbial communities associates with Idaho fescue/common snowberry associations and bluebunch wheatgrass-Sandberg`s blue grass associations. No differences were seen between the soil microbial communities of stands dominated by non-native and native plants. This lack of differentiation may be due to the fact that non-native species-especially annual bromes, such as cheatgrass, ventenata and perennial Kentucky bluegrass are growing even in communities dominated by native grasses and forbs. Information on microbial community dynamics in grassland systems will assist land managers in developing successful restoration guidelines.

Technical Abstract: Restoration of bunchgrass steppe lands will safeguard priority habitats, improve conditions for wildlife and reduce soil degradation. Microorganisms in the soil and soil crusts are a critical part of the native steppe or meadow steppe ecosystem, but little is known about the management of these communities to enhance restoration. Fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profiles from soil can be used to describe soil microbial and soil biotic community structure without reliance on culturing soil microorganisms, which may underestimate community structure. We compared the soil microbial communities as determined by FAME profiles in various grasslands dominated by non-native and native plants. We found differences between the microbial communities associated with Idaho fescue/common snowberry associations and bluebunch wheatgrass-Sandberg`s blue grass associations. No differences were seen between the FAME profiles of stands dominated by non-native and native plants. Non-native species-especially annual bromes, such as cheatgrass, ventenata and perennial Kentucky bluegrass are present even in communities dominated by native grasses and forbs, which may be the reason for the similarity in microbial communities among these plant communities. The FAME analysis may be useful to differentiate among soil biota under various plant species. Knowledge of microbial community dynamics in grassland systems may aid the development of successful restoration strategies.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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