University of Oulu

M.J. Annala, K. Lehosmaa, S.H.K. Ahonen, K. Karttunen, A.M. Markkola, I. Puumala, H. Mykrä, Effect of riparian soil moisture on bacterial, fungal and plant communities and microbial decomposition rates in boreal stream-side forests, Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 519, 2022, 120344, ISSN 0378-1127,

Effect of riparian soil moisture on bacterial, fungal and plant communities and microbial decomposition rates in boreal stream-side forests

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Author: Annala, M. J.1; Lehosmaa, K.2; Ahonen, S. H. K.2;
Organizations: 1Finnish Environment Institute, Freshwater Centre, P.O. Box 413, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland
2Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, P.O. Box 8000, FI-90014 University of Oulu, Finland
3Finnish Environment Institute, Freshwater Centre, Latokartanonkaari 11, 00790 Helsinki, Finland
4Metsähallitus, Wolffintie 36, 65100 Vaasa, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-06-13


Riparian habitats of boreal forests are considered as hotspots for biochemical processes and biodiversity, and varying width riparian buffers have been proposed to protect species diversity of the riparian forests. However, evidence of the role of soil moisture variation in shaping riparian biodiversity and ecosystem functioning remain scarce particularly regarding belowground diversity. We studied how distance from the stream and soil moisture of the riparian zone affected species richness and community composition of plants, bacteria, and fungi as well as microbial decomposition rates. Using a split-plot design with a plant survey and amplicon sequencing for microorganisms we identified taxa associated with different categories of moisture and distance from the stream along six headwater stream-sides in middle boreal forests in Northern Finland. Tea-bag Index was used to assess the decomposition rates. PERMANOVA and linear mixed-effect models were used to analyze the data. Variation in riparian soil moisture influenced species composition and richness of plants and bacteria. Plant communities also changed from herbaceous dominated to shrub dominated with increasing distance from the stream. Fungal communities, however, did not respond to soil moisture or distance from the stream, and there were only slight differences in fungal trophic guilds among moisture and distance categories. Decomposition of organic material by microorganisms was faster adjacent to the stream than further away, and moist riparian areas had higher decomposition rates than drier ones. Decomposition rates were positively related to pH, Ca, Mg and NH4 and soil temperature.

Synthesis and applications: We show that above- and belowground diversity and microbial decomposition are associated to soil moisture at riparian sites supporting the idea of leaving wider unmanaged buffers in moist habitats to safeguard the overall forest diversity. Our findings further emphasize the need to consider soil moisture when planning the measures for riparian protection as changes in riparian soil moisture could lead to deterioration of organic matter decomposition. Different responses of the examined plant and microbial communities to riparian soil conditions clearly imply that overall riparian diversity cannot be explained based on a single community type, and that different organisms may respond differently to human-induced changes in stream riparian zone.

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Series: Forest ecology and management
ISSN: 0378-1127
ISSN-E: 1872-7042
ISSN-L: 0378-1127
Volume: 519
Article number: 120344
DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2022.120344
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1183 Plant biology, microbiology, virology
Funding: This research was funded by Maj and Tor Nessling foundation (M. Annala, application number 201800320), The Finnish Society of Forest Science, The Finnish Foundation for Nature Conservation, Ilmari Räsäsen säätiö -foundation and GIS-based planning for protection of riparian forests of headwater streams EU regional development funds A75834.
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (