Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2017, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (6): 597-609.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2017.0011

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

Soil microbial biomass and its seasonality in deciduous broadleaved forests with different stand ages in the Mao’ershan region, Northeast China

Xin-Qi WANG, Yi HAN, Chuan-Kuan WANG*()   

  1. Center for Ecological Research, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, China
  • Received:2017-05-31 Accepted:2017-01-17 Online:2017-07-19 Published:2017-06-10
  • Contact: Chuan-Kuan WANG
  • About author:

    KANG Jing-yao(1991-), E-mail:


Aims Soil microbes play a key role in the biogeochemical cycling in terrestrial ecosystems and are important for the nutrient recovery of degraded soils due to disturbances. However, dynamics in soil microbial biomass during the development of the secondary forest after logging are little known. Our objectives were to examine the temporal dynamics and influencing factors of soil microbial biomass carbon content (Cmic) and nitrogen content (Nmic) along a temperate forest logging chronosequence.Methods The logging chronosequence included four sites with 0-year, 10-year, 25-year, and 56-year sites since clear cutting of a deciduous broadleaved forest and was established in 2014 in the Mao’ershan Forest Ecosystem Research Station, Northeast China. The Cmic and Nmic at all the sites were measured monthly during the growing season (from April to October) with the chloroform fumigation extraction method; the soil dissolved organic carbon content (Cdis), total nitrogen content (Ndis), soil water content and temperature were simultaneously measured. Important findings (1) There were significant differences in soil microbial biomass among the four sites: the means of Cmic at the 56-year and 0-year sites were significantly higher than those at the 25-year and 10-year sites; the means of Nmic at the 0-year and 56-year sites were significantly higher than those at the 10-year site, while the 25-year site had intermediate Nmic; The Cmic/Nmic ratios at the 56-year and 10-year sites were significantly higher than those at the 25-year and 0-year sites. (2) The Cmic and Nmic at the 0-year site tended to decrease at the end of the growing season compared to earlier times, while those at the rest sites showed an increasing trend or no significant change. Soil microbial biomass among the 10-year, 25-year, and 56-year sites differed at the early growing season, and its amplitude of variations decreased as the stand age increased. The Cmic/Nmic ratios at all sites showed a “W-shaped” seasonal pattern. (3) The main influencing factors of the seasonality of soil microbial biomass varied with the stand ages: they switched from soil water content at the 0-year and 10-year sites to the soil dissolved nutrients contents at the 10-year, 25-year, and 56-year sites. The seasonality of Cmic/Nmic ratios at the 0-year site was mainly influenced by soil temperature and Cdis, while those at the other three sites were driven by the Cdis/Ndisratio. It was concluded that with the forest development after clear cutting, the characteristics of vegetation and soil have been changing, inducing increased soil microbial biomass and thereby improved soil nutrient regime, which reflected strong links between aboveground changes in vegetation and belowground dynamics in soil microbes.

Key words: logging disturbance, chronosequence, microbial biomass carbon, microbial biomass nitrogen, seasonal dynamics, temperate forest

Table 1

Characteristics of the sampled plots (mean ± SD, n = 3)"

Site age (a)
Slope (°)
Site density (trees•hm-2)
Basal area (m2•hm-2)
Mean DBH (cm)
Site composition
0-20 cm土壤pH值
Soil pH value at 0-20 cm depth
0 18 0 0 0 未评估 Not assessed 4.70 ± 0.16
10 15 6 200 ± 2 300 19.51 ± 2.40 5.0 ± 0.5 10BP+PU+PA+AM 4.83 ± 0.21
25 15 6 028 ± 804 25.62 ± 2.30 12.2 ± 0.4 5BP3PD1UJ1FM+AM-PA-QM 4.85 ± 0.10
56 18 1 833 ± 617 28.77 ± 4.12 26.8 ± 1.3 3BP2AM1UJ1JM1FM
4.45 ± 0.30

Fig. 1

Comparisons of the vertical changes in the means of soil microbial biomass carbon content (A), nitrogen content (B) and carbon and nitrogen ratio (C) at different sites during the growing season (mean ± SE). Different capital letters of the same site indicate significant differences between soil layers, and different lowercase letters of the same soil layer indicate significant differences among sites, while the same letter indicates no significant difference."

Fig. 2

Comparisons of the vertical changes in the means of soil dissolved organic carbon content (A), total nitrogen content (B), dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen ratio (C), and water content (D) among the four sites during the growing season (mean ± SE). Different capital letters of the same site indicate significant differences between soil layers, and different lowercase letters of the same soil layer indicate significant differences among sites, while the same letter indicates no significant difference."

Fig. 3

Comparisons of the means of soil temperature at 5 cm depth during the growing season among sites and their seasonal dynamics (mean ± SE). Different lowercase letters indicate significant differences among sites."

Fig. 4

Seasonal dynamics in soil microbial biomass carbon content, nitrogen content and microbial biomass carbon and nitrogen ratio at different sites (mean ± SE)."

Table 2

Pearson’s correlation coefficient of soil microbial biomass and related factors (n = 12)"

Soil layer (cm)
Csoil/Nsoil Rmass
Cdis/Ndis pH WC (%) T5 (℃)
0-10 Cmic (mg•kg-1) 0.42 0.45 0.20 0.62* 0.18 0.71* -0.62* -0.54 0.64* -0.40
Nmic (mg•kg-1) 0.19 0.24 0.04 0.59* 0.27 0.69* -0.53 0.01 0.48 -0.26
Cmic/Nmic 0.32 0.30 0.19 -0.20 -0.26 -0.23 -0.01 -0.38 0.02 -0.24
10-20 Cmic (mg•kg-1) 0.43 0.42 -0.21 0.50 -0.12 0.58* -0.14 -0.22 0.52 -0.51
Nmic (mg•kg-1) 0.24 0.26 -0.17 0.30 -0.18 0.50 -0.21 -0.20 0.40 -0.32
Cmic/Nmic 0.59* 0.53 -0.16 0.55 0.06 0.30 -0.06 -0.29 0.53 -0.59*

Table 3

Results of stepwise regression of soil microbial biomass on related factors (n = 21)"

Dependent variable
Site age (a)
0-10 cm土层 0-10 cm soil layer 10-20 cm土层 0-10 cm soil layer
预测变量 Predictors R2 p 预测变量 Predictors R2 p
Cmic 0 NS WC (+) 0.371 0.003
10 Ndis (+) 0.373 0.003 Ndis (+) 0.352 0.005
Ndis (+), T5 (+) 0.506 0.002 Ndis (+), WC (+) 0.556 0.001
25 Cdis/Ndis (-) 0.232 0.027 Ndis (+) 0.232 0.027
56 NS Cdis (+) 0.509 <0.001
Nmic 0 NS WC (+) 0.255 0.020
10 Ndis (+) 0.242 0.024 WC 0.296 0.011
Ndis (+), T5 (+), Cdis (+) 0.579 0.002
25 NS Cdis (+) 0.195 0.044
56 Cdis/Ndis (+) 0.251 0.021 Cdis/Ndis (+) 0.497 <0.001
Cdis/Ndis (+), Cdis (+), T5 (+) 0.752 <0.001
Cmic/Nmic 0 T5 (-) 0.342 0.005 T5 (-) 0.351 0.005
T5 (-), Cdis (-) 0.557 0.001 T5 (-), Cdis (-) 0.709 <0.001
10 NS Cdis/Ndis (-) 0.496 <0.001
25 Cdis/Ndis (-) 0.256 0.019 Cdis/Ndis (-) 0.253 0.020
56 Cdis/Ndis (-) 0.313 0.008 Cdis/Ndis (-) 0.402 0.002
Cdis/Ndis (-), T5 (-) 0.650 <0.001

Fig. 5

Seasonal dynamics in soil dissolved organic carbon content (A), total nitrogen content (B), dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen ratio (C), and water content (D) at different sites (mean ± SE)."

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