Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2019, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (6): 532-542.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2019.0075

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Seasonal dynamics of soil microbial biomass carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry across global forest ecosystems

LI Pin1,*(),Muledeer TUERHANBAI2,TIAN Di2,FENG Zhao-Zhong1   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Centre for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, China
    2 College of Life Sciences, Capital Normal University, Beijing 100048, China
  • Received:2019-04-04 Revised:2019-06-12 Online:2019-09-30 Published:2019-06-20
  • Contact: LI PinORCID:0000-0003-2289-9240
  • Supported by:
    Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China(31870458);the Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences(QYZDB-SSW-DQC019)


Aims Soil microorganisms in forest ecosystems play vital roles in regulating above- and belowground ecosystem processes and functions such as soil nutrient cycling, litter decomposition, net ecosystem productivity, and ecosystem succession. We aim to investigate broad-scale seasonal patterns of soil microbial biomass carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) stoichiometry. Methods By synthesizing 164 samples of soil microbial biomass C, N and P content derived from the published literature, we investigated global seasonal patterns of soil microbial C, N, P content and their ratios across three vegetation types of global forests. Important findings Soil microbial biomass C, N and P content in temperate and subtropical forests were lower in summer and higher in winter. Soil microbial biomass C, N and P content in tropical forests were lower than those in temperate and subtropical forests in four seasons. Soil microbial biomass C and N content in tropical forests were relatively the lowest in autumn, and soil microbial biomass P content was relatively constant in all seasons. The soil microbial biomass C:N of temperate forest was significantly higher than that of other two forest types in spring, and that of tropical forest was significantly higher than that of other two forest types in autumn. Soil microbial biomass N:P and C:P in temperate forests remained relatively constant in four seasons, while those in tropical forests were higher than those in other three seasons in summer. The soil microbial biomass C content, N content, N:P and C:P of broad-leaved trees were significantly higher than those of conifers in four seasons, while the soil microbial biomass P content of conifers was significantly higher than that of broad-leaved trees in four seasons. There was no significant difference in soil microbial biomass C:N between broad-leaved and coniferous trees in both spring and winter, but the soil microbial biomass C:N of coniferous trees was significantly higher than that of broad-leaved trees in summer and autumn. For the change of soil microbial biomass, season is not but forest type is the main significant factor, suggesting that the seasonal fluctuation of soil microbial biomass changes with the inherent periodic change of trees. Asynchronous nutrient uptake by plants and soil microorganisms is a trade-off mechanism between nutrient retention and ecological function maintenance.

Key words: microbial biomass carbon, microbial biomass nitrogen, microbial biomass phosphorus, forest soil, seasonal dynamics, stoichiometric ratio

Fig. 1

A conceptual model illustrating the links between plant and soil microbial activity in terrestrial ecosystems. On one hand, plants and microbes are mutualistic, since plant residues constitute the main substrate for microbial biomass that in turn produces inorganic nitrogen used by plants. On the other hand, their interaction is in competition for soil nutrients, N in particular. The competitive interaction is regulated by the relative distribution of roots and microbes in the soil, but it also depends on the pathway followed by the mineralized N. Redraw based on Zak et al. (2000)."

Table 1

Soil microbial biomass carbon (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) content, C:N, N:P, C:P for each forest type across global forest ecosystems"

森林类型 Forest type 微生物生物量 Microbial biomass (μg·g-1) 微生物生物量比值 Microbial biomass ratio
所有类型 Overall 629 ± 477 (80) 98 ± 81 (66) 32 ± 26 (34) 6.9a ± 2.5 (65) 5.4 ± 8.2 (33) 26.4 ± 25.0 (34)
温带针叶林 Temperate conifer forest 570ab ± 307 (14) 76b ± 49 (13) 76 ± 41 (5) 7.9a ± 2.4 (13) 1.3 ± 0.0 (4) 13.1 ± 9.9 (5)
温带阔叶林 Temperate broad-leaved forest 795ab ± 551 (12) 94b ± 57 (11) 54 (1) 7.4a ± 1.9 (10) 1.3 (1) 8.6 (1)
亚热带针叶林 Subtropical conifer forest 347b ± 125 (5) 35b ± 9 (3) na 8.3a ± 2.6 (3) na na
亚热带阔叶林 Subtropical broad-leaved forest 971a ± 650 (17) 186a ± 94 (11) 28 ± 11 (7) 5.8a ± 1.7 (11) 9.1 ± 3.5 (7) 53.4 ± 22.2 (7)
热带森林 Tropical forest 454b ± 303 (32) 82b ± 78 (28) 22 ± 10 (21) 6.5a ± 2.7 (28) 5.2 ± 9.7 (21) 21.5 ± 22.8 (21)

Table 2

Correlation coefficients for the relationship between microbial biomass carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) content with environmental variables on different forest types"

森林类型 Forest type 年平均气温 MAT 年降水量 MAP pH 土壤有机碳 SOC 土壤总氮 TN 土壤总磷 TP
biomass C
所有类型 Overall -0.247*** 0.037 -0.117* 0.671*** 0.582*** 0.461***
Temperate conifer forest
-0.165 0.361** -0.561*** 0.858*** 0.838*** -0.105
Temperate broad-leaved forest
-0.084 0.116 0.138 0.704*** 0.696*** 0.437***
Subtropical conifer forest
0.087 0.231 -0.327* 0.303* 0.173 0.003
Subtropical broad-leaved forest
-0.208 0.249* 0.285* 0.614*** 0.640*** 0.505*
热带森林 Tropical -0.172 0.289** -0.350** 0.549*** 0.609*** 0.625***
biomass N
所有类型 Overall -0.226*** 0.085 -0.047 0.535*** 0.588*** 0.346***
Temperate conifer forest
-0.248 0.246 -0.285 0.638*** 0.717*** -0.424
Temperate broad-leaved forest
0.039 0.059 0.355*** 0.481*** 0.597*** 0.428*
Subtropical conifer forest
0.180 0.517** -0.498** 0.037 -0.007 -0.340
Subtropical broad-leaved forest
-0.419** 0.217 0.123 0.672*** 0.676*** 0.201
热带森林 Tropical forest -0.262* 0.205 -0.339** 0.610*** 0.691*** 0.633***
biomass P
所有类型 Overall -0.555*** -0.323** 0.363*** 0.215* 0.263* 0.474***
Temperate conifer forest
0.891* -0.147 0.351 0.943* 0.918* -0.839
Temperate broad-leaved forest
0.434* -0.434* 0.375 0.591** 0.776*** 0.638**
Subtropical conifer forest
0.154 0.287 0.442 0.806 0.867 -0.331
Subtropical broad-leaved forest
0.311 0.284 0.348 0.599* 0.643* 0.542
热带森林 Tropical forest -0.082 0.024 -0.397* 0.245 0.303 0.347

Fig. 2

Seasonal dynamic changes in soil microbial biomass C, N, P content and their ratios in three climatic forest types including temperate forests, subtropical forests and tropical forests (mean ± SD). The asterisk designates statistical differences (p < 0.05)."

Fig. 3

Comparisons of soil microbial biomass and their ratios in three climatic forest types including temperate forests, subtropical forests and tropical forests (mean ± SD). Statistical differences are denoted by different lowercase letters (p < 0.05)."

Fig. 4

Box-Whisker plots showing the differences in soil microbial biomass between coniferous and broadleaf forests at four major seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter (mean ± SD). Statistical differences are denoted by different lowercase letters (p < 0.05)."

Table 3

Two-way ANOVA analysis on the integrative effects of seasons and forest types on soil microbial biomass and their ratios "

来源 Source 微生物生物量C含量
Microbial biomass C content
Microbial biomass N content
Microbial biomass P content
d.f. MS F d.f. MS F d.f. MS F
森林类型 Forest type 2 1 135 927.6 4.04* 2 90 638.4 13.41*** 2 20 756.4 52.32***
季节 Season 3 172 792.3 0.62 3 3 484.8 0.52 3 1 142.8 2.88*
森林类型 × 季节 Forest type × Season 6 123 876.6 0.44 6 2 794.1 0.41 6 535.8 1.35
残差 Residual 264 281 003.8 216 6 761.1 105 396.7
来源 Source 微生物生物量C:N
Microbial biomass C:N
Microbial biomass N:P
Microbial biomass C:P
d.f. MS F d.f. MS F d.f. MS F
森林类型 Forest type 2 93.1 7.76** 2 430.5 7.18** 2 11 677.1 6.20**
季节 Season 3 17.9 1.49 3 6.8 0.11 3 245.8 0.13
森林类型 × 季节 Forest type × Season 6 34.7 2.89* 6 20.3 0.34 6 649.4 0.35
残差 Residual 211 12.0 97 60.0 101 1 884.1
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