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Response of soil microbial biomass and activity in early restored lands in the northeastern Brazilian Atlantic Forest

Martucci do Couto, Gabriela, Eisenhauer, Nico, Batista de Oliveira, Everson, Cesarz, Simone, Patriota Feliciano, Ana Lícia, Marangon, Luiz C.
Restoration ecology 2016 v.24 no.5 pp. 609-616
ecosystem services, ecosystems, land use change, microbial biomass, plantations, rain forests, reforestation, riparian forests, soil, soil microorganisms, soil sampling, sugarcane, Brazil
Intensive land use of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest accelerated with the rise of sugar cane plantations in the northeastern part of Brazil. Consequently, many ecosystems were destroyed, including riparian forests. The number of studies of riparian restoration has increased but comparative studies on the belowground effects of common reforestation strategies are rare. Here, we compared soil microbial properties among four different land use types: native rainforest, sugar cane plantation, single species reforestation, and mixed species reforestation, each replicated at two spatially independent sites. Soil samples were taken in 2013 and 2014, that is 2 and 3 years after reforestation, respectively. In both years, land use types had a significant effect on basal respiration, microbial biomass, and specific respiration (whereas specific respiration was marginally affected in 2014). In 2013, basal respiration in sugar cane plantations was significantly lower (−65%) when compared to native forests. In 2014, basal respiration (+60%) and soil microbial biomass (+90%) were significantly higher in mixed species reforestation compared to sugar cane, whereas single species reforestation had comparable values as in sugar cane plantations. Our results indicate that soil microbial biomass and activity respond rapidly to land use change when mixed species reforestation is used. Thus, using mixed species reforestation may enhance the provisioning of ecosystem services already in the short term.