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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Improving Nutrient Utilization in Western Irrigated Crop Production Systems

Location: Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research

Title: Soil-plant-microbial relations in hydrothermally altered soils of Northern California

Authors
item Blecker, S.W. -
item Stillings, L.L. -
item Decrappeo, N.M. -
item Ippolito, James

Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 3, 2013
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Soil and vegetation samples were taken at three unaltered andesite sites, three hydrothermally altered (acid-sulfate) sites and three different types of disturbance (clearcut, thinned, pipeline) in acid-sulfate sites. Soils were analyzed for physical, chemical, and microbiological properties, while in-field vegetation measurements consisted of canopy cover by life form (tree, shrub, forb, grass), tree and shrub density, and understory above-ground net primary productivity. Clearcut site parameters were more similar to the unaltered sites, while parameters at the thinned and pipeline sites were more similar to the altered sites. Two soil quality indices were developed to help quantify differences among the sites: one based on the correlation between soil parameters and canopy cover, and the second based on six sub-indices.

Technical Abstract: Soils developed on relict hydrothermally altered soils throughout the Western United States present unique opportunities to study the role of geology on above and belowground biotic activity and composition. Soil and vegetation samples were taken at three unaltered andesite and three hydrothermally altered (acid-sulfate) sites located in and around Lassen Volcanoes National Park in northeastern California. In addition, three different types of disturbed areas (clearcut, thinned, pipeline) were sampled in acid-sulfate altered sites. Soils were sampled (0 to 15 centimeters) in mid-summer 2010 from both under-canopy and between-canopy areas within each of the sites. Soils were analyzed for numerous physical and chemical properties along with soil enzyme assays, carbon and nitrogen mineralization potential, microbial biomass-carbon and carbon-substrate utilization. Field vegetation measurements consisted of canopy cover by life form (tree, shrub, forb, grass), tree and shrub density, and above-ground net primary productivity of the understory. Overall, parameters at the clearcut sites were more similar to the unaltered sites, while parameters at the thinned and pipeline sites were more similar to the altered sites. We employed principal components analysis to develop two soil quality indices to help quantify the differences among the sites: one based on the correlation between soil parameters and canopy cover, and the second based on six sub-indices. Soil quality indices developed in these systems could provide a means for monitoring and identifying key relations between the vegetation, soils and microorganisms.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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