Catalina-Jemez, GRAD STUDENT
Landscape position and depth in the soil column influence the movement of microbial substrate throughout a catchment, from upslope areas to downslope areas, thereby impacting nutrient cycling rates and capabilities of the microbial communities in those areas. Wildfire also shapes the biogeochemistry of the landscape, creating a mosaic with variations in substrate type and concentration that also influence microbial communities and biogeochemical cycling. Nitrogen (N) in particular is altered by wildfire, as it is easily volatilized and the removal of organic matter (OM) reduces N inputs. We aimed to understand how landscape position and soil depth, first and foremost, influence microbial communities and their N-cycling, but also how this may differ from wildfires and their relative impacts on the soil microbial communities. Landscape position proved to influence few soil and microbial characteristics, while movement from soil surface to deep in the column and the incidence of wildfire caused many variations in soil physical and biogeochemical cycling properties. The interaction of landscape position and soil depth also showed little variation in any measurements, while wildfire and soil depth interactions showed drastic changes that indicate high order controls over the soil microbial community. It can be surmised that while landscape position is important for many soil properties, it is soil depth and wildfire that truly control the soil microbial communities and their N-cycling capabilities.
Murphy M.A. (2016): Interactions of Wildfire, Landscape Position, and Soil Depth in Structuring Post-Fire Soil Microbial Communities. MS Thesis, Soil, Water & Environmental Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, 50 pp .