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- PublicationAccès libreImpact of roots, mycorrhizas and earthworms on soil physical properties as assessed by shrinkage analysisSoil biota such as earthworms, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and plant roots are known to play a major role in engineering the belowground part of the terrestrial ecosystems, thus strongly influencing the water budget and quality on earth. However, the effect of soil organisms and their interactions on the numerous soil physical properties to be considered are still poorly understood. Shrinkage analysis allows quantifying a large spectrum of soil properties in a single experiment, with small standard errors. The objectives of the present study were, therefore, to assess the ability of the method to quantify changes in soil properties as induced by single or combined effects of leek roots (Allium porrum), AMF (Glomus intraradices) and earthworms (Allolobophora chlorotica). The study was performed on homogenised soil microcosms and the experiments lasted 35 weeks. The volume of the root network and the external fungal hyphae was measured at the end, and undisturbed soil cores were collected. Shrinkage analysis allowed calculating the changes in soil hydro-structural stability, soil plasma and structural pore volumes, soil bulk density and plant available water, and structural pore size distributions. Data analysis revealed different impacts of the experimented soil biota on the soil physical properties. At any water content, the presence of A. chlorotica resulted in a decrease of the specific bulk volume and the hydro-structural stability around 25%, and in a significant increase in the bulk soil density. These changes went with a decrease of the structural pore volumes at any pore size, a disappearing of the thinnest structural pores, a decrease in plant available water, and a hardening of the plasma. On the contrary, leek roots decreased the bulk soil density up to 1.23 g cm−3 despite an initial bulk density of 1.15 g cm−3. This increase in volume was accompanied with a enhanced hydro-structural stability, a larger structural pore volume at any pore size, smaller structural pore radii and an increase in plant available water. Interestingly, a synergistic effect of leek roots and AMF in the absence of the earthworms was highlighted, and this synergistic effect was not observed in presence of earthworms. The structural pore volume generated by root and AMF growth was several orders of magnitude larger than the volume of the organisms. Root exudates as well as other AMF secretion have served as carbon source for bacteria that in turn would enhance soil aggregation and porosity, thus supporting the idea of a self-organization of the soil–plant–microbe complex previously described.
- PublicationAccès libreInfluence of some physicochemical and biological parameters on soil structure formation in alluvial soilsThis study examines the role of abiotic (texture, calcium carbonates or iron) and biotic parameters (earthworm and enchytraeid activities) on the initial phases of soil aggregation. Our research focused on humus forms in alluvial soils, which are considered as young and heterogeneous environments. We hypothesized that the soil structure formation is determined by both the nature of the recent alluvial deposits and the soil fauna. For this purpose, six sites were chosen throughout two types of softwood forests (willow and alder forest) representing two stages of vegetation succession. Evidence of soil texture influence on aggregate stability was observed. A dominance of a coarse sand fraction caused a quick colonization of enchytraeids and epigeic earthworms while a silty texture favoured the presence of anecic earthworms, thus increasing the aggregate stabilisation. Iron forms, acting as cementing agents, were observed in the coarse silt, while calcium carbonates were equally distributed among the textural fractions. Active calcium carbonate fraction, binding organic matter with mineral components, was not found in the coarse sand fraction. In conclusion, the tree age cannot alone be used as an indicator of the humus form evolution but biological and physicochemical parameters also influence the initial steps of soil structuration.
- PublicationAccès libreEarthworm communities in alluvial forests: Influence of altitude, vegetation stages and soil parametersIn many terrestrial ecosystems, soil parameters usually regulate the distribution of earthworm communities. In alluvial ecosystems, few studies have investigated the impact of periodic floods and alluvium deposition on soil fauna. In this context, we assumed that earthworm communities may vary depending on altitude (alpine, subalpine, mountain and hill levels), forest successional stage (post-pioneer to mature forests) and some soil parameters. Our results demonstrated that the composition of earthworm communities differed depending on altitudinal gradients. No earthworm was found at the alpine level while maximum density and biomass were observed at the hill level mainly due to the contribution of anecic species. A total of 27 species and subspecies were found over the three sampling sites, and Lumbricus moliboeus was discovered for the first time in carbonated soils. Soil texture had a major effect on epigeics that were often associated with coarse sandy texture in contrast to anecics which preferred deep soils and mature forest stages, which in combination provided the highest carbon content and the finest soil texture. In our study, carbonated fluviosols (Fluvisols according to the World Reference Base) were recorded; fluviosols typiques with well-structured A layers were generally found in mature or intermediate forest stages while most of fluviosols juveniles with heterogeneous texture were observed principally in post-pioneer forests. We conclude that in alluvial ecosystems, earthworm communities were highly dependent first on soil parameters, then altitude and to a lesser extent forest successional stages. Changes in earthworm communities tend to reflect a gradient of alluvial dynamics thus reinforcing the potential role of earthworms as bioindicators in natural and/or semi natural alluvial ecosystems.