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Tree species could have substantial consequences on topsoil fauna: a feedback of land degradation/restoration

Kooch, Yahya, Tavakoli, Mahmood, Akbarinia, Moslem
European journal of forest research 2018 v.137 no.6 pp. 793-805
Acari, Alnus subcordata, Collembola, Cupressus sempervirens, Nematoda, Protozoa, Quercus castaneifolia, acid soils, alkaline soils, autumn, bioactive properties, earthworms, forest litter, forests, land degradation, land use, nutrients, plant communities, soil quality, spring, topsoil, trees, vegetation cover, Iran
The characteristics of the faunal community in the soil are closely related to soil quality and function. Land degradation, which reduces vegetation cover, may affect the soil surface-active fauna because both the above ground and below ground invertebrates depend on complex plant communities. In this study, we evaluated the effect of land degradation/restoration and factors affecting soil fauna in northern Iran. The studied land uses were virgin natural forest (VNF), Alnus subcordata C.A.M. plantation (ASP), Quercus castaneifolia C.A. Mey plantation (QCP), Cupressus sempervirens var. horizontalis plantation (CSP) and degraded natural forest (DNF). VNF and ASP enhanced soil earthworm density (2.43 and 2.12 ind. m⁻²) and dry mass (27.44 and 23.39 mg m⁻²) with more ratio of epigeic. The activities of acarina (91,851.37 and 85,810.43 ind. m⁻²), collembola (83,009.50 and 74,996.18 ind. m⁻²) and protozoa [921.25 and 851.81 (× 10² g soil)] were increased under VNF ≈ ASP, respectively. Nematode population (650 in 100 g soil) significantly improved under VNF. In general, good quality forest floor, alkaline soil and accumulation of macro-element nutrients improved biological activities under the VNF and ASP sites, while low-quality forest floor, acidic soil, less macro-elements nutrients decreased biological activities imposed by the QCP, CSP and DNF sites. More activities of the studied soil fauna were found in autumn and spring. The findings of this study support the importance of preserving natural forests. In addition, employing N₂-fixing and suitable native broadleaved species have been proposed in a bid to rehabilitate DNFs.