Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Will grassland soil weather a change?

17.12.2015

Grassland soil microbe communities show seasonal responses, deserve more research

There's more to an ecosystem than the visible plants and animals. The soil underneath is alive with vital microbes. They make sure nutrients from dead plant and animal material are broken down and made useable by other plants. This completes the process of nutrient cycling and carbon storage.


Elizabeth Carlisle reaches into a +Heat plot during plot work in Fall 2010.

Photo credit Danny Walls

Scientists are learning more about how important these microbes are. But how do changes in temperature and precipitation levels affect microbes? And will that affect carbon storage?

A view of the whole experimental layout after initiation of warming and precipitation treatments."These pasture systems are pretty understudied in terms of how climate change will affect them, which is not good because these areas rely so heavily on agriculture," says Lindsey Slaughter of the University of Kentucky. "While this work was part of a longer project studying plant communities, I was able to study soil microbial communities over one year because they are such an important part of these ecosystems."

The project contained four study conditions applied to a Kentucky pasture. One treatment experienced the natural seasonal changes of rainfall and temperature. A second treatment was 3°C warmer than the natural temperature. A third received 30% more precipitation during the growing season. A final group received both extra warming and rainfall treatments.

Slaughter took samples of the soil and its microbes each season. She measured various features of the microbial population. She also looked at how these bacteria and fungi responded to carbon in soil as food.

The experiment revealed some differences associated with warming. Winter soils in the warmed plots had less carbon available for microbial use. These warmed plots also contained 16% more microbes, year-round, compared to those not warmed. However, the most variation occurred because of the seasonal changes in temperature and precipitation, not the experimental changes.

"It was really unexpected because we thought that the experimental conditions would lead to more changes for the soil microbes," explains Slaughter. "We only sampled one year out of the larger five-year study. We can't be sure if the microbes experienced changes initially and just adapted by the time we sampled them, or if their characteristics stayed the same over the whole period. It's an issue of timing that deserves more research."

Reaching into an added heat test plotThe results do not mean these microbes are immune to a changing climate. Slaughter explains the experiment may have reflected short-term stresses the bacteria are able to cope with. For example, the year the study was conducted was a normal year for weather, but in the past the area experienced severe drought.

"If the changes that I saw in one unstressed year, such as the low carbon in the winter in warmed plots, were to persist in the next couple of years, that could have long term effects on the microbes and even the plants," Slaughter says. "We found big differences in plant communities due to the different treatments, even though we saw little difference in soil microbial communities."

She adds that more severe, long-term stresses from a changing climate could cause negative effects. The role of soil microbes in storing carbon dioxide is important to consider in climate change models because they can have such a large impact.

"It's hard to make generalizations about how areas will react to the effects of climate change. Different regions will experience different changes," says Slaughter. "Our results show that for this year-long period, seasonal changes had more of an effect than making the soils warmer and wetter. But the small changes we did see definitely point to the need for a long-term study here and in other locations."

###

Soil Science Society of America Journal published the research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and National Science Foundation.

Susan Fisk | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Ten-year anniversary of the Neumayer Station III
18.01.2019 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht The pace at which the world’s permafrost soils are warming
16.01.2019 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Ten-year anniversary of the Neumayer Station III

The scientific and political community alike stress the importance of German Antarctic research

Joint Press Release from the BMBF and AWI

The Antarctic is a frigid continent south of the Antarctic Circle, where researchers are the only inhabitants. Despite the hostile conditions, here the Alfred...

Im Focus: Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech

World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles

The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.

Im Focus: Flying Optical Cats for Quantum Communication

Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...

Im Focus: Nanocellulose for novel implants: Ears from the 3D-printer

Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.

It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:

Im Focus: Elucidating the Atomic Mechanism of Superlubricity

The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.

One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

11th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Aachen, 3-4 April 2019

14.01.2019 | Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Additive manufacturing reflects fundamental metallurgical principles to create materials

18.01.2019 | Materials Sciences

How molecules teeter in a laser field

18.01.2019 | Life Sciences

The cytoskeleton of neurons has been found to be involved in Alzheimer's disease

18.01.2019 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>