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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Effect of Climate on Plant and Soil Properties at Different Scales

Authors
item Smith, Jeffrey
item Halvorson, Jonathan
item Bailey, Vanessa - NORTHWEST NAT'L LABORATOR
item Bolton, Harvey - NORTHWEST NAT'L LABORATOR

Submitted to: International Society of Ecological Modeling Annual Meetings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2005
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Ecology at multiple scales includes the analysis of soil properties and functions within an ecosystem that are influenced by changes in climate. Temperature and precipitation may impact the diversity of the plant and soil microbial biomass and affect the spatial distribution of soil properties. Study areas were established in a shrub-steppe ecosystem at 310, 590, 740, 840 m elevations, which provided a natural gradient of decreasing temperature and increasing precipitation as elevation increased. Soil was sampled underneath Pseudoroegneria spicata (bluebunch wheatgrass) a dominant plant at the four sites and cryptogamic soil lichen crust. Percent plant cover decreased with decreasing elevation and changes in plant composition were evident. Soil microbial biomass C and N were significantly higher under P. spicata than crust and tended to decrease with decreasing elevation. POM C and N increased with elevation as did the total soil C and N. However, the non-POM fraction showed no significant differences with elevation. These results suggest that as climate becomes warmer and drier, percent plant cover will decrease and biomass and diversity of soil microorganisms will also decrease. In addition the C and N in the larger more reactive soil fractions will decrease.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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