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      Effects of set-aside management on certain elements of soil biota and early stage organic matter decomposition in a High Nature Value Area, Hungary

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      Nature Conservation

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Agricultural intensification is one of the greatest threats to soil biota and function. In contrast, set-aside still remains a management practice in certain agri-environmental schemes. In Hungary, the establishment of sown set-aside fields is a requirement of agri-environmental schemes in High Nature Value Areas. We tested the effects of set-aside management on soil biota (bacteria, microarthropods, woodlice and millipedes), soil properties and organic matter decomposition after an initial establishment period of two years. Cereal – set-aside field pairs, semi-natural grasslands and cereal fields were sampled in the Heves Plain High Nature Value Area in Eastern Hungary, in May 2014. Topsoil samples were taken from each site for physical, chemical, microbial analyses and for extraction of soil microarthropods. Macrodecomposers were sampled by pitfall traps for two weeks. The biological quality of soil was estimated by the integrated QBS index (‘‘Qualità Biologica del Suolo’’, meaning ‘‘Biological Quality of Soil’’) based on diversity of soil microarthropods. To follow early stage organic matter decomposition, we used tea bags filled with a site-independent, universal plant material (Aspalathus linearis, average mass 1.26 ± 0.03 g). Tea bags were retrieved after 1 month to estimate the rate of mass loss. We found significant differences between habitat types regarding several soil physical and chemical parameters (soil pH, K and Na content). The study showed positive effects of set-aside management on soil biodiversity, especially for microarthropods and isopods. However, we did not experience similar trends in relation to soil bacteria and millipedes. There was higher intensity of organic matter decomposition in soils of set-aside fields and semi-natural grasslands (remaining mass on average: 74.17% and 76.6%, respectively) compared to cereal fields (average remaining mass: 81.3%). Out of the biotic components, only the biological quality of soil significantly influenced (even if marginally) plant tissue decomposition. Our results highlight the importance of set-aside fields as shelter habitats for soil biota, especially for arthropods. Set-aside fields that are out of a crop rotation for 2 years could be a valuable option for maintaining soil biodiversity, as these fields may simultaneously conserve elements of above- and below-ground diversity.

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          Most cited references 38

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          Farming the planet: 2. Geographic distribution of crop areas, yields, physiological types, and net primary production in the year 2000

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            Comparative metagenomic, phylogenetic and physiological analyses of soil microbial communities across nitrogen gradients

            Terrestrial ecosystems are receiving elevated inputs of nitrogen (N) from anthropogenic sources and understanding how these increases in N availability affect soil microbial communities is critical for predicting the associated effects on belowground ecosystems. We used a suite of approaches to analyze the structure and functional characteristics of soil microbial communities from replicated plots in two long-term N fertilization experiments located in contrasting systems. Pyrosequencing-based analyses of 16S rRNA genes revealed no significant effects of N fertilization on bacterial diversity, but significant effects on community composition at both sites; copiotrophic taxa (including members of the Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes phyla) typically increased in relative abundance in the high N plots, with oligotrophic taxa (mainly Acidobacteria) exhibiting the opposite pattern. Consistent with the phylogenetic shifts under N fertilization, shotgun metagenomic sequencing revealed increases in the relative abundances of genes associated with DNA/RNA replication, electron transport and protein metabolism, increases that could be resolved even with the shallow shotgun metagenomic sequencing conducted here (average of 75 000 reads per sample). We also observed shifts in the catabolic capabilities of the communities across the N gradients that were significantly correlated with the phylogenetic and metagenomic responses, indicating possible linkages between the structure and functioning of soil microbial communities. Overall, our results suggest that N fertilization may, directly or indirectly, induce a shift in the predominant microbial life-history strategies, favoring a more active, copiotrophic microbial community, a pattern that parallels the often observed replacement of K-selected with r-selected plant species with elevated N.
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              Microbial diversity in soil: selection microbial populations by plant and soil type and implications for disease suppressiveness.

              An increasing interest has emerged with respect to the importance of microbial diversity in soil habitats. The extent of the diversity of microorganisms in soil is seen to be critical to the maintenance of soil health and quality, as a wide range of microorganisms is involved in important soil functions. This review focuses on recent data relating how plant type, soil type, and soil management regime affect the microbial diversity of soil and the implication for the soil's disease suppressiveness. The two main drivers of soil microbial community structure, i.e., plant type and soil type, are thought to exert their function in a complex manner. We propose that the fact that in some situations the soil and in others the plant type is the key factor determining soil microbial diversity is related to the complexity of the microbial interactions in soil, including interactions between microorganisms and soil and microorganisms and plants. A conceptual framework, based on the relative strengths of the shaping forces exerted by plant and soil versus the ecological behavior of microorganisms, is proposed.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Conservation
                NC
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-3301
                1314-6947
                August 29 2018
                August 29 2018
                : 29
                : 1-26
                Article
                10.3897/natureconservation.29.24856
                © 2018

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