Forest conversion to plantations: A meta-analysis of consequences for soil and microbial properties and functions

Primary or secondary forests around the world are increasingly being converted into plantations. Soil microorganisms are critical for all biogeochemical processes in ecosystems, but the effects of forest conversion on microbial communities and their functioning remain unclear. Here, we conducted a meta-analysis to quantify the impacts that converting forests to plantations has on soil microbial communities and functioning as well as on the associated plant and soil properties. We collected 524 paired observations from 138 studies globally. We found that conversion leads to broad range of adverse impacts on soils and microorganisms, including on soil organic carbon (−24%), total nitrogen (−29%), bacterial and fungal biomass (−36% and −42%, respectively), microbial biomass carbon (MBC, −31%) and nitrogen (−33%), and fungi to bacteria ratio (F:B, −16%). In addition, we found impacts on the ratio of MBC to soil organic C (qMBC, −20%), microbial respiration (−18%), N mineralization (−18%), and enzyme activities including β-1,4-glucosidase (−54%), β-1,4-N-acetylglucosaminidase (−39%), and acid phosphatase (ACP; −34%). In contrast, conversion to plantations increases bacterial richness (+21%) and microbial metabolic quotient (qCO2, +21%). The effects of forest conversion were consistent across stand ages, stand types, and climate zone. Soil C and N contents as well as the C:N ratio were the main factors responsible for the changes of microbial C, F:B, and bacterial richness. The responses of qCO2, N mineralization, and ACP activity were mainly driven by the reductions in F:B, MBC, and soil C:N. Applying macro-ecology theory on ecosystem disturbance in soil microbial ecology, we show that microbial groups shifted from K to r strategists after conversion to plantations. Our meta-analysis underlines the adverse effects of natural forests conversion to plantations on soil microbial communities and functioning, and suggests that the preservation of soil functions should be a consideration in forest management practices. © 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Wang Y. 1, 2 , Chen L.1, 2 , Xiang W.1, 2 , Ouyang S.1, 2 , Zhang T.1, 2 , Zhang X.1, 2 , Zeng Y.1, 2 , Hu Y.1, 2 , Luo G.3 , Kuzyakov Y. 1, 4, 5, 6
Blackwell Publishing Ltd
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  • 1 Faculty of Life Science and Technology, Central South University of Forestry and Technology, Changsha, China
  • 2 Huitong National Station for Scientific Observation and Research of Chinese Fir Plantation Ecosystem in Hunan Province, Huitong, China
  • 3 College of Resources and Environment, Hunan Agricultural University, Changsha, China
  • 4 Department of Soil Science of Temperate Ecosystems, Department of Agricultural Soil Science, University of Gottingen, Göttingen, Germany
  • 5 Institute of Environmental Sciences, Kazan Federal University, Kazan, Russian Federation
  • 6 Agro-Technological Institute, RUDN University, Moscow, Russian Federation
Ключевые слова
deforestation; microbial community; nitrogen cycling; soil carbon; soil functions; tree plantations
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