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Effect of vegetation degradation on soil nutrients and microflora in the Sanjiangyuan region of Qinghai, China



Effect of vegetation degradation on soil nutrients and microflora in the Sanjiangyuan region of Qinghai, China



Chinese Journal of Applied and Environmental Biology 13(6): 788-793



This study aimed to investigate soil microflora and nutrient cycling under different vegetation types in the Sanjiangyuan region, Qinghai. Soil organic matters and nutrient contents were determined by conventional chemical methods, while microbial populations were studied using spread-plate techniques and classified by their morphological features. The data indicated that deterioration of the vegetation resulted in a loss of soil nutrients and an overall decline in soil fertility in the Sanjiangyuan region. The soil organic matters averaged 14. 85 g kg(-1) in degraded alpine meadow soil, which was 54% similar to 91% lower than that of non-degraded soil. Soil nitrogen, phosphorus and available potassium levels were also much lower in degraded than those in non-degraded soil, but there was no consistent pattern change in total soil potassium or pH. Soil mieroflora in the alpine marshland soil was negatively affected by the change in vegetation and decline in fertility. Specifically, the bacterial population in the degraded alpine meadow soil was 8.8 x 10(6) cfu g(-1) compared to fungal population of 9. 5 x 10(3) cfu g(-1) and actinomycete population of 8. 1 x 10(5) cfu g(-1). These populations were 47% similar to 66% lower than microbial populations in the non-degraded alpine meadow soil, 23% similar to 63% lower than those in the alpine grassland soil and 48% similar to 90% lower than those in the marshy meadow soil. The microbial community structure simplified along with the vegetative degradation. The number of fungal species dropped from seven under non-degraded vegetation to three in degraded areas. Nearly 97% of the actinomycetes isolated from degraded meadow soil were streptomycetes, while the others declined significantly. In conclusion, there was a close relationship between soil nutrient content and soil microflora in the Sanjiangyuan alpine ecosystem. The analysis of soil nutrient factors and microbial populations showed that total soil phosphorus was the key nutrient to affect the populations of the three main types of soil microorganisms.

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