Effects of drought legacy and tree species admixing on bacterial growth and respiration in a young forest soil upon drying and rewetting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the context of future climate change, the flush of CO2 emissions from soils after drying-rewetting events could have a strong impact on the terrestrial carbon balance. Mixed forests may be more resistant and resilient to drought events compared to monocultures, and as such may modulate the effects of drought on soil functioning belowground. We investigated the influence of mixed planting and drought legacy on respiration and bacterial growth rates (3H Leucine incorporation) in response to drying-rewetting. Soils were sampled from a 7-year old tree diversity experiment (FORBIO), where oak (Quercus robur L.) trees admixed with one or three other tree species were subjected to ∼50% precipitation reduction for 2 years (“drought legacy”). Respiration increased immediately after rewetting, whereas bacterial growth only started after a distinct lag phase of ca. 7 h. A legacy of drought reduced bacterial growth and respiration rates upon rewetting, however tree species admixing did not modulate the drought legacy effect. Our results suggest that prolonged decrease in precipitation may lead to a reduced CO2 pulse upon drying-rewetting and admixing up to three tree species with oak in a young afforestation would not alleviate drought legacy effects on bacterial growth and respiration rates.


External organisations
  • University of Liège
  • Ghent University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
  • Microbiology


  • Bacterial growth, Birch effect, Leucine incorporation, Precipitation manipulation, Sapling, Tree species richness
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-155
Number of pages8
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch