Lengthy Study Shows Value of Soil Health and Forest Restoration after Damaging Events
By UC Merced
A nine-year experiment by a UC Merced Department of Life and Environmental Sciences professor and his colleagues is illuminating the importance of soil carbon in maintaining healthy and functioning ecosystems because of its influence on the microbial communities that live in soil.
These communities’ health can help researchers understand the effects of climate change.
Professor Stephen C. Hart and graduate student Nicholas Dove published a new paper entitled “ Carbon Control on Terrestrial Ecosystem Function across Contrasting Site Productivities: The Carbon Connection Revisited ” in the prestigious journal Ecology this week, showing that reducing the carbon plants input into soil drastically affects microbial life.
That can lead to many downstream consequences, including the leaching of nitrogen and other nutrients from the soil — where they are beneficial — to aquatic ecosystems — where they are harmful. Carbon reductions are often the result of “disturbance events” such as wildfires and deforestation.