Soil enzymatic activity was assessed in the Stelvio Pass area (Italian Central Alps) aiming to define the possible effects of climate change on microbial functioning. Two sites at two different elevations were chosen, a subalpine (2239 m) and an alpine belt (2604–2624 m), with mean annual air temperature differing by almost 3 °C, coherent with the worst future warming scenario (RCP 8.5) by 2100. The lower altitude site may represent a proxy of the potential future situation at higher altitude after the upward shift of subalpine vegetation due to climate change. Additionally, hexagonal open top chambers (OTCs) were installed at the upper site, to passively increase by about 2 °C the summer inner temperature to simulate short term effects of warming before the vegetation shift takes place. Soil physicochemical properties and the bacterial and fungal abundances of the above samples were also considered. The subalpine soils showed a higher microbial activity, especially for hydrolytic enzymes, higher carbon, ammonium and hydrogen (p < 0.001) contents, and a slightly higher PO4 content (p < 0.05) than alpine soils. Bacterial abundance was higher than fungal abundance, both for alpine and subalpine soils. On the other hand, the short term effect, which increased the mean soil temperature during the peak of the growing season in the OTC, showed to induce scarcely significant differences for edaphic parameters and microbial biomass content among the warmed and control plots. Using the manipulative warming experiments, we demonstrated that warming is able to change the enzyme activity starting from colder and higher altitude sites, known to be more vulnerable to the rising temperatures associated with climate change. Although five-years of experimental warming does not allow us to make bold conclusions, it appeared that warming-induced upwards vegetation shift might induce more substantial changes in enzymatic activities than the short-term effects, in the present vegetation context.

Microbial activity in alpine soils under climate change

Cannone N.;Malfasi F.;
2021-01-01

Abstract

Soil enzymatic activity was assessed in the Stelvio Pass area (Italian Central Alps) aiming to define the possible effects of climate change on microbial functioning. Two sites at two different elevations were chosen, a subalpine (2239 m) and an alpine belt (2604–2624 m), with mean annual air temperature differing by almost 3 °C, coherent with the worst future warming scenario (RCP 8.5) by 2100. The lower altitude site may represent a proxy of the potential future situation at higher altitude after the upward shift of subalpine vegetation due to climate change. Additionally, hexagonal open top chambers (OTCs) were installed at the upper site, to passively increase by about 2 °C the summer inner temperature to simulate short term effects of warming before the vegetation shift takes place. Soil physicochemical properties and the bacterial and fungal abundances of the above samples were also considered. The subalpine soils showed a higher microbial activity, especially for hydrolytic enzymes, higher carbon, ammonium and hydrogen (p < 0.001) contents, and a slightly higher PO4 content (p < 0.05) than alpine soils. Bacterial abundance was higher than fungal abundance, both for alpine and subalpine soils. On the other hand, the short term effect, which increased the mean soil temperature during the peak of the growing season in the OTC, showed to induce scarcely significant differences for edaphic parameters and microbial biomass content among the warmed and control plots. Using the manipulative warming experiments, we demonstrated that warming is able to change the enzyme activity starting from colder and higher altitude sites, known to be more vulnerable to the rising temperatures associated with climate change. Although five-years of experimental warming does not allow us to make bold conclusions, it appeared that warming-induced upwards vegetation shift might induce more substantial changes in enzymatic activities than the short-term effects, in the present vegetation context.
2021
Alpine soils; Carbon storage; Decomposition; Enzyme activity; Vegetation shift; Warming effect; Biomass; Italy; Soil Microbiology; Temperature; Climate Change; Soil
D'Alo, F.; Odriozola, I.; Baldrian, P.; Zucconi, L.; Ripa, C.; Cannone, N.; Malfasi, F.; Brancaleoni, L.; Onofri, S.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11383/2120429
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