The Effects of Mesquite Tree Removal on Soil Microbial and Nutrient Cycling Processes in Semi-Arid Environments
AuthorFinnerty-Rae, Eileen Claire
Committee ChairMaier, Raina
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe expansion of mesquite (Prosopis velutina) in southeastern Arizona and attempts to control or remove mesquite have been well documented. However, removal of woody plants may affect the distribution and quantities of nutrient resources within soil including changes in carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling and changes in the amounts of C and N sequestered in these soils. We hypothesized that mechanical mesquite removal would alter soil microclimate and nutrient inputs, leading to changes in soil C and N cycling and microbial communities and activities.This study was conducted at two separate semi-arid grassland sites south of Tucson, AZ during a three-year period. There were six study plots at each site, three plots from which mature mesquite trees had been mechanically removed and three plots where mature mesquite trees were left intact. We measured the soil temperature and moisture, C and N pools, N2O and CO2 fluxes, N mineralization rate, and microbial resistance and resilience to determine if short term changes in any of these parameters were taking place.No significant differences in N mineralization rate or microbial resistance or resilience were found between the soils under intact mesquite and from plots where mesquite had been mechanically removed. Soil temperature was not statistically analyzed because temperature was taken in only one plot per treatment and without within-treatment replicates, t-tests could not be performed. Statistically significant differences in soil moisture, total soil C and N, microbial biomass C and N, heterotrophic plate counts, and CO2 and N2O fluxes were found between treatments on different dates throughout the experiment. Despite this finding of some significant differences between treatments for some parameters measured, no recognizable pattern of changes was observed during this study. Over the course of the experiment, the data did not support our overall hypothesis, that short term changes in microclimate following mesquite removal would alter soil C and N cycling and microbial communities and activities.
Degree ProgramSoil, Water & Environmental Science