Matching Items (8)

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Seasonal Dynamics and the Islands of Fertility in Arid Landscapes: An Evaluation of Extraction Techniques

Description

Microarthropods play important roles in the decomposition process of the detrital food web, where they break down organic matter and return nutrients to the soil. However, only a small percentage

Microarthropods play important roles in the decomposition process of the detrital food web, where they break down organic matter and return nutrients to the soil. However, only a small percentage of the belowground microarthropod population has been studied or even discovered, leading to a decrease in the knowledge of all of the processes carried out by these organisms and their importance to the soil. This is because microarthropod extraction methods are not 100% effective at collecting specimens. This study aimed to find an ideal quantitative procedure to better record the number of microarthropods existing in the soil and to determine if a seasonal variation exists that effects the success of extraction. Two extraction methods, including dynamic extraction and heptane flotation extraction, were compared across two seasons, a dry season (June) and a wet season (September). Average biomasses and average richness were calculated for four different functional groups, including Prostigmata, Mesostigmata, Cryptostigmata, and Collembola, across the two seasons, and statistical analysis was performed to determine if any differences that existed were statistically significant. Results indicate that the dynamic extraction method was significantly more effective for the collection of microarthropods during the wet season, and the heptane extraction method was significantly more effective during the dry season. In addition, the heptane procedure recovered samples of higher average richness than the dynamic method during both seasons. The heptane procedure works best for extraction during the dry season because it is able to collect organisms that entered into an ametabolic anhydrobiotic state to escape desiccation. These organisms form a protective lipid layer around their exoskeletons to retain water, and the non-polar exoskeletons display a chemical affinity to the heptane fluid, allowing for collection out of the soil and into the heptane layer. Despite these results, no one method is entirely superior to the other, and the most efficacious procedure depends on the researcher's aim of study.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014-12

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Impact of restoration practices on mycorrhizal inoculum potential in a semi-arid riparian ecosystem

Description

Mycorrhizal fungi form symbiotic relationships with plant roots, increasing nutrient and water availability to plants and improving soil stability. Mechanical disturbance of soil has been found to reduce mycorrhizal inoculum

Mycorrhizal fungi form symbiotic relationships with plant roots, increasing nutrient and water availability to plants and improving soil stability. Mechanical disturbance of soil has been found to reduce mycorrhizal inoculum in soils, but findings have been inconsistent. To examine the impact of restoration practices on riparian mycorrhizal inoculum potential, soil samples were collected at the Tres Rios Ecosystem Restoration and Flood Control Project located at the confluence of the Salt, Gila, and Agua Fria rivers in central Arizona. The project involved the mechanical removal of invasive Tamarix spp.( tamarisk, salt cedar) and grading prior to revegetation. Soil samples were collected from three stages of restoration: pre-restoration, soil banks with chipped vegetation, and in areas that had been graded in preparation for revegetation. Bioassay plants were grown in the soil samples and roots analyzed for arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) and ectomycorrhizal (EM) infection percentages. Vegetations measurements were also taken for woody vegetation at the site. The mean number of AM and EM fungal propagules did not differ between the three treatment area, but inoculum levels did differ between AM and EM fungi with AM fungal propagules detected at moderate levels and EM fungi at very low levels. These differences may have been related to availability of host plants since AM fungi form associations with a variety of desert riparian forbs and grasses and EM fungi only form associations with Populus spp. and Salix spp. which were present at the site but at low density and canopy cover. Prior studies have also found that EM fungi may be more affected by tamarisk invasions than AM fungi. Our results were similar to other restoration projects for AM fungi suggesting that it may not be necessary to add AM fungi to soil prior to planting native vegetation because of the moderate presence of AM fungi even in soils dominated by tamarisk and exposed to soil disturbance during the restoration process. In contrast when planting trees that form EM associations, it may be beneficial to augment soil with EM fungi collected from riparian areas or to pre-inoculate plants prior to planting.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Soil biogeochemical consequences of the replacement of residential grasslands with water-efficient landscapes

Description

As a result of growing populations and uncertain resource availability, urban areas are facing pressure from federal and state agencies, as well as residents, to promote conservation programs that provide

As a result of growing populations and uncertain resource availability, urban areas are facing pressure from federal and state agencies, as well as residents, to promote conservation programs that provide services for people and mitigate environmental harm. Current strategies in US cities aim to reduce the impact of municipal and household resource use, including programs to promote water conservation. One common conservation program incentivizes the replacement of water-intensive turfgrass lawns with landscapes that use less water consisting of interspersed drought-tolerant shrubs and trees with rock or mulch groundcover (e.g. xeriscapes, rain gardens, water-wise landscapes). A handful of previous studies in experimental landscapes have shown that converting a turfgrass yard to a shrub-dominated landscape has the potential to increase rates of nitrate (NO3-) leaching. However, no studies have examined the drivers or patterns across diverse management practices. In this research, I compared soil nutrient retention and cycling in turfgrass and lawn-alternative xeriscaped yards along a chronosequence of time since land cover change in Tempe, Arizona, in the semi-arid US Southwest. Soil inorganic extractable nitrogen (N) pools were greater in xeriscapes compared to turfgrass lawns. On average xeriscapes contained 2.5±0.4 g NO3--N/m2 in the first 45 cm of soil, compared to 0.6±0.7 g NO3--N/m2 in lawns. Soil NO3--N pools in xeriscaped yards also varied significantly with time: pools were largest 9-13 years after cover change and declined to levels comparable to turfgrass at 18-21 years. Variation in soil extractable NO3--N with landscape age was strongly influenced by management practices that control soil water availability, including shrub cover, the presence of sub-surface plastic sheeting, and the frequency of irrigation. This research is the first to explore the ecological outcomes and temporal dynamics of an increasingly common, ‘sustainable’ land use practice that is universally promoted in US cities. Our findings show that transitioning from turfgrass to water-efficient residential landscaping can lead to an accumulation of NO3--N that may be lost from the soil rooting zone over time, through leaching following irrigation or rainfall. These results have implications for best management practices to optimize the benefits of water-conserving residential yards.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Niche differentiation of ammonia-oxidizing microbial communities in arid land soils

Description

Human activity has increased loading of reactive nitrogen (N) in the environment, with important and often deleterious impacts on biodiversity, climate, and human health. Since the fate of N in

Human activity has increased loading of reactive nitrogen (N) in the environment, with important and often deleterious impacts on biodiversity, climate, and human health. Since the fate of N in the ecosystem is mainly controlled by microorganisms, understanding the factors that shape microbial communities becomes relevant and urgent. In arid land soils, these microbial communities and factors are not well understood. I aimed to study the role of N cycling microbes, such as the ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), the recently discovered ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA), and various fungal groups, in soils of arid lands. I also tested if niche differentiation among microbial populations is a driver of differential biogeochemical outcomes. I found that N cycling microbial communities in arid lands are structured by environmental factors to a stronger degree than what is generally observed in mesic systems. For example, in biological soil crusts, temperature selected for AOA in warmer deserts and for AOB in colder deserts. Land-use change also affects niche differentiation, with fungi being the major agents of N2O production in natural arid lands, whereas emissions could be attributed to bacteria in mesic urban lawns. By contrast, NO3- production in the native desert and managed soils was mainly controlled by autotrophic microbes (i.e., AOB and AOA) rather than by heterotrophic fungi. I could also determine that AOA surprisingly responded positively to inorganic N availability in both short (one month) and long-term (seven years) experimental manipulations in an arid land soil, while environmental N enrichment in other ecosystem types is known to favor AOB over AOA. This work improves our predictions of ecosystem response to anthropogenic N increase and shows that paradigms derived from mesic systems are not always applicable to arid lands. My dissertation also highlights the unique ecology of ammonia oxidizers and draws attention to the importance of N cycling in desert soils.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2013

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The ancient agroecology of Perry Mesa: integrating runoff, nutrients, and climate

Description

Understanding agricultural land use requires the integration of natural factors, such as climate and nutrients, as well as human factors, such as agricultural intensification. Employing an agroecological framework, I use

Understanding agricultural land use requires the integration of natural factors, such as climate and nutrients, as well as human factors, such as agricultural intensification. Employing an agroecological framework, I use the Perry Mesa landscape, located in central Arizona, as a case study to explore the intersection of these factors to investigate prehistoric agriculture from A.D. 1275-1450. Ancient Perry Mesa farmers used a runoff agricultural strategy and constructed extensive alignments, or terraces, on gentle hillslopes to slow and capture nutrient rich surface runoff generated from intense rainfall. I investigate how the construction of agricultural terraces altered key parameters (water and nutrients) necessary for successful agriculture in this arid region. Building upon past work focused on agricultural terraces in general, I gathered empirical data pertaining to nutrient renewal and water retention from one ancient runoff field. I developed a long-term model of maize growth and soil nutrient dynamics parameterized using nutrient analyses of runoff collected from the sample prehistoric field. This model resulted in an estimate of ideal field use and fallow periods for maintaining long-term soil fertility under different climatic regimes. The results of the model were integrated with estimates of prehistoric population distribution and geographical characterizations of the arable lands to evaluate the places and periods when sufficient arable land was available for the type of cropping and fallowing systems suggested by the model (given the known climatic trends and land use requirements). Results indicate that not only do dry climatic periods put stress on crops due to reduced precipitation but that a reduction in expected runoff events results in a reduction in the amount of nutrient renewal due to fewer runoff events. This reduction lengthens estimated fallow cycles, and probably would have increased the amount of land necessary to maintain sustainable agricultural production. While the overall Perry Mesa area was not limited in terms of arable land, this analysis demonstrates the likely presence of arable land pressures in the immediate vicinity of some communities. Anthropological understandings of agricultural land use combined with ecological tools for investigating nutrient dynamics provides a comprehensive understanding of ancient land use in arid regions.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2013

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Juniper effects on grassland soil nutrient availability

Description

ABSTRACT The February 2008 study of a Snowflake, Arizona site measured changes in soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, extractable phosphorus, and soil moisture, to determine what affect One-seed Juniper (Juniperus

ABSTRACT The February 2008 study of a Snowflake, Arizona site measured changes in soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, extractable phosphorus, and soil moisture, to determine what affect One-seed Juniper (Juniperus monosperma) trees have on surrounding soil, thus affecting native grass growth. Increasing juniper densities in grasslands also decrease populations of some grassland bird species. Measurements were taken each meter along a twelve meter line transect, moving from juniper trees, through a bare soil area and into a grassland. Non-linear relationships were examined, in regard to distance from the tree and juniper root mass. Relationships were examined to determine any affect of the juniper tree on soil characteristics along the transect. Organic carbon decreased as distance increased from the trees (F=4.25, df=46, p=0.020). Soil moisture increased with distance from the trees (F=5.42, df=46, p=0.008), and juniper root mass, of roots less than 1 mm diameter, significantly decreased with distance away from the trees (F=11.29, df=46, p=0.0001). Total nitrogen and extractable phosphorus did not significantly change with distance from the tree, or presence of juniper roots. This data is important as grassland restoration projects rely on the availability of soil nutrients and water for reestablishment of native grass species.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2010

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Spatial relationships among soil nutrients, plant biodiversity and aboveground biomass in the Inner Mongolia grassland, China

Description

The relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) is a central issue in ecology, and a number of recent field experimental studies have greatly improved our understanding of this relationship.

The relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) is a central issue in ecology, and a number of recent field experimental studies have greatly improved our understanding of this relationship. Spatial heterogeneity is a ubiquitous characterization of ecosystem processes, and has played a significant role in shaping BEF relationships. The first step towards understanding the effects of spatial heterogeneity on the BEF relationships is to quantify spatial heterogeneity characteristics of key variables of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and identify the spatial relationships among these variables. The goal of our research was to address the following research questions based on data collected in 2005 (corresponding to the year when the initial site background information was conducted) and in 2008 (corresponding to the year when removal treatments were conducted) from the Inner Mongolia Grassland Removal Experiment (IMGRE) located in northern China: 1) What are the spatial patterns of soil nutrients, plant biodiversity, and aboveground biomass in a natural grassland community of Inner Mongolia, China? How are they related spatially? and 2) How do removal treatments affect the spatial patterns of soil nutrients, plant biodiversity, and aboveground biomass? Is there any change for their spatial correlations after removal treatments? Our results showed that variables of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in the natural grassland community would present different spatial patterns, and they would be spatially correlated to each other closely. Removal treatments had a significant effect on spatial structures and spatial correlations of variables, compared to those prior to the removal treatments. The differences in spatial pattern of plant and soil variables and their correlations before and after the biodiversity manipulation may not imply that the results from BEF experiments like IMGRE are invalid. However, they do suggest that the possible effects of spatial heterogeneity on the BEF relationships should be critically evaluated in future studies.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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Seasonality and ecosystem response in two prehistoric agricultural regions of central Arizona

Description

This thesis explores the independent effects of the manipulation of rocks into alignments, prehistoric farming, and season on soil properties in two areas with a history of prehistoric agriculture in

This thesis explores the independent effects of the manipulation of rocks into alignments, prehistoric farming, and season on soil properties in two areas with a history of prehistoric agriculture in central Arizona, Pueblo la Plata within the Agua Fria National Monument (AFNM), and an archaeological site north of the Phoenix basin along Cave Creek (CC). Soil properties, annual herbaceous biomass and the physical properties of alignments and surface soils were measured and compared across the landscape, specifically on: 1) agricultural rock alignments that were near the archaeological site 2) geologically formed rock alignments that were located 0.5-1 km away from settlements; and 3) areas both near and far from settlements where rock alignments were absent. At AFNM, relatively well-built rock alignments have altered soil properties and processes while less-intact alignments at CC have left few legacies.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011