, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 55–68 | Cite as

Factors determining soil microbial biomass and nutrient immobilization in desert soils

  • Antonio Gallardo
  • William H. Schlesinger


We examined the 10-day response of soil microbial biomass-N to additions of carbon (dextrose) and nitrogen (NH4NO3) to water-amended soils in a factorial experiment in four plant communities of the Chihuahuan desert of New Mexico (U.S.A.). In each site, microbial biomass-N and soil carbohydrates increased and extractable soil N decreased in response to watering alone. Fertilization with N increased microbial biomass-N in grassland soils; whereas, fertilization with C increased microbial biomass-N and decreased extractable N and P in all communities dominated by shrubs, which have invaded large areas of grassland in the Chihuahuan desert during the last 100 years. Our results support the hypothesis that the control of soil microbial biomass shifts from N to C when the ratio of C to N decreases during desertification.

Key words

desert soils desertification soil microbial biomass soil nitrogen soil carbon 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio Gallardo
    • 1
  • William H. Schlesinger
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de EcologíaUniversidad de SevillaSevillaSpain
  2. 2.Departments of Botany and GeologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of BotanyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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