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Earthworm population and microbial activity temporal dynamics in a Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forest

Bayranvand, Mohammad, Kooch, Yahya, Rey, Ana
European journal of forest research 2017 v.136 no.3 pp. 447-456
Alnus glutinosa, Carpinus betulus, Populus, Pterocarya fraxinifolia, Quercus castaneifolia, Ulmus minor, autumn, bioactive properties, biomass, climate, earthworms, microbial activity, mineral soils, mixed forests, nitrogen content, pH, seasonal variation, soil chemical properties, spring, summer, temperate forests, trees, winter, Iran
Few studies have analyzed how tree species within a mixed natural forest affect the dynamics of soil chemical properties and soil biological activity. This study examines seasonal changes in earthworm populations and microbial respiration under several forest species (Carpinus betulus, Ulmus minor, Pterocarya fraxinifolia, Alnus glutinosa, Populus caspica and Quercus castaneifolia) in a temperate mixed forest situated in northern Iran. Soil samplings were taken under six individual tree species (n = 5) in April, June, August and October (a total of 30 trees each month) to examine seasonal variability in soil chemical properties and soil biological activity. Earthworm density/biomass varied seasonally but not significantly between tree species. Maximum values were found in spring (10.04 m⁻²/16.06 mg m⁻²) and autumn (9.7 m⁻²/16.98 mg m⁻²) and minimum in the summer (0.43 m⁻²/1.26 mg m⁻²). Soil microbial respiration did not differ between tree species and showed similar temporal trends in all soils under different tree species. In contrast to earthworm activity, maximum microbial activity was measured in summer (0.44 mg CO₂–C g soil⁻¹ day⁻¹) and minimum in winter (0.24 mg CO₂–C g soil⁻¹ day⁻¹). This study shows that although tree species affected soil chemical properties (pH, organic C, total N content of mineral soils), earthworm density/biomass and microbial respiration are not affected by tree species but are controlled by tree activity and climate with strong seasonal dynamics in this temperate forest.