Carbon and nitrogen limitations of soil microbial biomass in desert ecosystems

TitleCarbon and nitrogen limitations of soil microbial biomass in desert ecosystems
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsGallardo A, Schlesinger WH
Date Published1992
Accession NumberJRN00154
Call Number00452
Keywordsarticle, articles, biogeochemistry,carbon, biogeochemistry,nitrogen, biogeochemistry,nutrient immobilization, carbon,soil, grassland,microbial biomass, journal, journals, microbial biomass, nitrogen,soil, nutrient,soil, playa,microbial biomass, shrubland,microbial biomass, soil,nutrient immobilization

Microbial biomass nitrogen was measured in unamended (dry) and wetted soils in ten shrubland and grassland communities of the Chihuahuan desert, southern New Mexico, by the fumigation-extraction method. Microbial biomass-N in dry soils was undetectable. Average microbial biomass-N in wetted soils among all plant communities was 15.3 ug g-1 soil. Highest values were found in the communities with the lowest topographic positions, and the minimum values were detected in the spaces between shrubs. Microbial biomass was positively and significantly correlated to soil organic carbon and extractable nitrogen (NH4+ + NO3-). In a stepwise multiple regression, organic carbon and extractable nitrogen accounted for 40.9 and 5.6%, respectively, of the variance in microbial biomass-N among the samples. Among communities, the soil microbial biomass was affected by the ration of carbon to extractable nitrogen. Our results suggest a succession in the control of microbial biomass from nitrogen to carbon when the ratio of carbon to nitrogen decreases during desertification.