European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 126, Issue 1, pp 59–65 | Cite as

Variations in soil chemical properties and microbial biomass in artificial gaps in silver fir stands

  • Adele Muscolo
  • Maria Sidari
  • Roberto Mercurio
Original Paper


Changes in soil chemical and microbiological parameters in small (185 m2) and medium (410 m2) gaps, created in mature silver fir (Abies alba Mill) stands (mean height 30 m) in the Calabrian Apennines (Southern Italy), were studied over 2 years. Medium gaps had high soil temperature and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) transmittance and low soil moisture. Within small gaps we detected a greater amount of organic matter, with respect to under canopy cover sites and medium gaps. Moreover, a different trend of the organic matter between small and medium gaps was observed. In the medium gaps, with respect to under canopy cover sites and small gaps, we found a relatively low content of organic matter, associated to a lower amount of humic acid, which suggested that the organic substrate undergoes a mineralization rather than a humification process. An opposite trend was observed in small gaps, where the increase of organic matter content, associated to an increase of humic acid and microbial biomass, suggested a better humification process. Moreover, in small gaps the highest level of urease and the greatest fluorescein diacetate (FDA) hydrolysis were observed. The different trend of organic matter observed in small and medium gaps may be related to changes in the environmental conditions. PAR transmittance, significantly higher in medium gaps, contributed to increase soil temperature and decrease soil moisture, affecting soil microbial populations and organic matter trend. These results suggest that the creation of small gaps represents the silvicultural practice with minor environmental impact.


Artificial gaps Enzymes Microbial biomass PAR transmittance Organic matter Silver fir Soil properties 



This research was supported by the Regione Calabria—Research Project: “La rinaturalizzazione dei rimboschimenti di conifere in Calabria” (2003). The authors thank: Dr. Antonio Poletto, Azienda Agraria “S. Maria” Serra San Bruno (VV); Prof. S. Nardi, University of Padua, and Prof. G. Corti, University “Politecnica” of Marche, for critical reading of the manuscript; and Ms. A. Cummins for revising the language.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Forest Systems Management“Mediterranean” University of Reggio CalabriaReggio CalabriaItaly

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