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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #267633

Title: Soil disturbance increases soil microbial enzymatic activity in arid ecoregion

item Schwab, Lori
item Unc, Adrian
item Lucero, Mary

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/17/2011
Publication Date: 8/8/2011
Citation: Schwab, L.K., Unc, A., Lucero, M.E. 2011. Soil disturbance increases soil microbial enzymatic activity in arid ecoregion [abstract]. Nature Proceedings. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Functional diversity of the soil microbial community is commonly used in the assessment of soil health as it relates to the activity of soil microflora involved in carbon cycling. Soil microbes in different microenvironments will have varying responses to different substrates, thus catabolic fingerprint information of each location-specific community can be obtained. The purpose of this study was to evaluate total-soil enzymatic activity profiles across three disturbance regimes in an arid desert grassland in the Southwestern United States. Microbial enzymatic activity was measured using the MicroResp™ system, which measures respiration of microbes within whole soil samples supplemented with various carbon sources (simple and polymeric sugars, amino acids, carboxylic acids, and fatty acids). Total bacterial diversity was assessed by 16sRNA pyrosequencing. Microbial activity was greatest and most variable in sites exposed to disturbance (grazing, natural gas extraction). The introduction of disturbance, and therefore enhanced heterogeneity, may drive changes in soils towards higher functional diversity to adapt to the disturbance.