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Soil surface disturbances in cold deserts: Effects on nitrogenase activity in cyanobacterial-lichen soil crusts

Biology and Fertility of Soils

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Abstract

CyanobacteriaMichen soil crusts can be a dominant source of nitrogen for cold-desert ecosystems. Effects of surface disturbance from footprints, bike and vehicle tracks on the nitrogenase activity in these crusts was investigated. Surface disturbances reduced nitrogenase activity by 30-100%. Crusts dominated by the cyanobacterium Microcoleus vaginatus on sandy soils were the most susceptible to disruption; crusts on gypsiferous soils were the least susceptible. Crusts where the soil lichen Collema tenax was present showed less immediate effects; however, nitrogenase activity still declined over time. Levels of nitrogenase activity reduction were affected by the degree of soil disruption and whether sites were dominated by cyanobacteria with or without heterocysts. Consequently, anthropogenic surface disturbances may have serious implications for nitrogen budgets in these ecosystems.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Soil surface disturbances in cold deserts: Effects on nitrogenase activity in cyanobacterial-lichen soil crusts
Series title:
Biology and Fertility of Soils
Volume
23
Issue:
4
Year Published:
1996
Language:
English
Contributing office(s):
Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description:
p. 362-367
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Biology and Fertility of Soils
First page:
362
Last page:
367
Number of Pages:
6