, Volume 87, Issue 2, pp 162-170

Lupine influence on soil carbon, nitrogen and microbial activity in developing ecosystems at Mount St. Helens

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Summary

Lupine influence on soil C, N, and microbial activity was estimated by comparing root-zone soil (LR) to nonroot-zone soil (NR) collected at Mount St. Helens. Samples were collected from 5 sites forming a gradient of C and N levels as a reflection of different locations and varying volcanic disturbance by the 1980 eruption. In volcanic substrates undergoing primary ecosystem development, C and N levels were low, as would be expected, but higher in LR soil than NR soil. At the least disturbed sites, N was only slightly greater in LR soil whereas significantly less C was observed in LR soil than in surrounding NR soil. Inorganic-N concentrations were small at all sites but comprised a significant proportion of the total amount of soil N in volcanic substrates. In general, LR zone soil contained significantly more NH inf4 sup+ −N. The addition of glucose increased respiration in soils from all sites with the greatest relative response in volcanic soil from the low end of the C and N gradient. Active soil microbial biomass-C and cumulative respiration were correlated with C and N and were significantly greater in LR soil than in NR soil for all sites. These results are consistent with some expected trends in ecosystem development and demonstrate the significance of resource dynamics and lupines in determining patterns of ecosystem response to disturbance at Mount St. Helens. They also suggest that processes leading to soil heterogeneity can be related to either development or to degradation depending on the context of the specific ecosystem or resource under consideration.