, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 809–822 | Cite as

Increasing tree diversity enhances microbial and enzyme activities in temperate Iranian forests

  • Yahya KoochEmail author
  • Razie Sanji
  • Masoud Tabari
Original Article


Key message

Our findings show the differential impacts of tree types (hornbeam–ironwood natural forest and plantations of ash, maple, cypress and pine) on soil physical–chemical characteristics and how dominant tree species regulate the size and activity of soil microbial and enzymes.


Soil microbial and enzyme activities have an important influence on nutrient cycling. The variation in soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) microbial indices as well as enzyme activities were determined under hornbeam–ironwood natural forest and 25-years old plantations of ash, maple, cypress and pine in northern Iran. Four soil profiles were dug along the four parallel transects in the central part of each forest stand, resulting in 16 soil samples for each stand at a depth of 0–15 cm. The results showed significant differences in most of studied soil physico-chemical properties among different land covers. Soil microbial basal respiration (MR) and substrate induced respiration (SIR) were found to be significantly higher under natural forest than in the plantation stands. Microbial biomass C (MBC) did not differ for the forest stands, whereas natural forest had significantly higher qCO2 (MR: MBC), microbial entropy (MBC: Corg) and C availability index (MR: SIR) values. The establishment of plantations reduced the values of soil microbial biomass N, mineral nitrogen (NH4–N and NO3–N) and N mineralization with the least under coniferous stands of cypress and pine, while greater amounts were observed under natural forest. With replacement in the type of tree species from natural forest to plantations, acid phosphatase, arylsulphatase and invertase enzyme activities decreased significantly in the topsoil, whereas like natural forest, ash plantation improved urease enzyme. This research recommends conservation of natural forests for increase of soil quality and plantation of suitable native broad-leaved species for rehabilitation of degraded natural forests.


Natural forest Plantation Microbial indices Carbon Nitrogen 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Natural Resources and Marine SciencesTarbiat Modares UniversityNoorIran

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