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Contrasting vegetation states do not diverge in soil organic matter storage: evidence from historical sites in tundra
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2644-2144
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6943-1218
2019 (English)In: Ecology, ISSN 0012-9658, E-ISSN 1939-9170, Vol. 100, no 7, article id e02731Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Ecosystems where severe disturbance has induced permanent shifts in vegetation and soil processes may represent alternative stable states. To date, little is known on how long-lasting changes in soil processes are following such disturbances, and how the changes in plant and soil processes between the alternative states eventually manifest themselves in soil organic matter (SOM) storage. Here, we analyzed plant density, the shrub : forb ratio, microbial respiration, extracellular enzyme activities and SOM stocks in soils of subarctic tundra and historical milking grounds, where reindeer herding induced a vegetation transition from deciduous shrubs to graminoids several centuries earlier but were abandoned a century ago. This provides the possibility to compare sites with similar topography, but highly contrasting vegetation for centuries. We found that enzymatic activities and N:P stoichiometry differed between control and disturbed sites, confirming that culturally induced vegetation shifts exert lasting impacts on tundra soil processes. Transition zones, where shrubs had encroached into the historical milking grounds during the past 50 yr, indicated that microbial activities for N and P acquisition changed more rapidly along a vegetation shift than those for microbial C acquisition. Although plant and soil processes differed between control and disturbed sites, we found no effect of historical vegetation transition on SOM stock. Across the study sites, soil SOM stocks were correlated with total plant density but not with the shrub : forb ratio. Our finding that SOM stock was insensitive to a centennial difference in plant community composition suggests that, as such, grazing-induced alternative vegetation states might not necessarily differ in SOM sequestration.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 100, no 7, article id e02731
Keywords [en]
cultural landscape, extracellular enzymes, historical ecology, reindeer, soil carbon stock, tundra
National Category
Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-161833DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2731ISI: 000474286800007PubMedID: 30991449OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-161833DiVA, id: diva2:1342087
Available from: 2019-08-12 Created: 2019-08-12 Last updated: 2019-08-12Bibliographically approved

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Egelkraut, DagmarOlofsson, Johan

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