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Characterization of an amphimull under Mediterranean evergreen oak forest (Quercus ilex): micromorphological and biodynamic descriptions

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The relationships between microorganisms and microfauna were studied in an evergreen oak (Quercus ilex L.) forest floor located in a French Mediterranean region characterized by hot and dry summers. The soil was a brown fersialitic soil with an amphimull, i.e., a mull with a thick litter. A micromorphological study of both litter and organomineral layers was used to observe relationships between white-rot fungi and fauna, such as oribatids, millipedes, enchytraeids, and earthworms. Microbiological properties of the litter and physicochemical properties of the soil were analysed. Enchytraeids comminute the faeces of other animals, whereas earthworms form aggregates. These two opposite actions probably modify aeration and water movements in deeper layers. Brown leaves and animal faeces constitute a nutritional substrate for white-rot fungi and other animals. Inside degraded cells of rootlets and bleached leaves, fungi form calcium oxalate crystals because the absorbent complex is saturated by an excess of calcium. Enzymes such as laccases, manganese peroxidases, cellulases, or xylanases were detected in the litter at significant levels. The high activity values of phosphatases in the litter could reflect a deficiency in available phosphorus. This deficiency could partly explain a low rate of litter degradation and the presence of an OH sublayer.

Les relations entre micro-organismes et microfaune ont été étudiées sur le sol d’une forêt de chêne vert (Quercus ilex L.) en région méditerranéenne française caractérisée par des étés chauds et secs. Le sol est un sol brun fersialitique avec un amphimull, c.-à-d. un mull à litière épaisse. Une étude micro-morphologique de la litière et des couches organo-minérales a été réalisée pour observer les relations entre les champignons de la pourriture blanche et la faune (oribates, diplopodes, enchytréides, vers de terre). Les propriétés microbiologiques de la litière et physico-chimiques du sol ont été analysées. Les enchytréides pulvérisent les fèces d’autres animaux, les vers de terre formant des agrégats. Ces deux actions opposées modifient probablement l’aération et les mouvements de l’eau dans les couches plus profondes. Les feuilles brunes et les fèces animales constituent un substrat nutritionnel pour les champignons et pour les animaux. Dans les cellules végétales dégradées, les champignons forment des cristaux d’oxalate de calcium, le complexe absorbant étant saturé en calcium. Des activités laccase, manganèse peroxydase, cellulase ou xylanase ont été détectées dans la litière. De fortes activités phosphatases indiquent une carence en phosphore disponible qui pourrait expliquer la lenteur de dégradation de la litière et donc la présence d’une sous-couche OH.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-02-01

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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