Effects of leaf litter extraction fluid from dominant forest tree species on functional characteristics of soil microbial communities.
The effects of extraction fluids from the leaf litter from different dominant tree species on the functional characteristics of the soil microbial community were studied to understand how changes in soil quality and synergism between plants and soil contribute to the process of forest succession. Leaf litter from dominant tree species at different stages of succession were collected and extracted with sterile deionized water. After treating the soil of abandoned land with the different extraction fluids, we analyzed changes in carbon utilization of the soil microbial community in Biolog EcoPlates, then considered these results with those of our previous study on forest vegetation succession in the Malan forest. The leaf litter enhanced the metabolic capacity and functional diversity of the soil microbes, especially in the following combinations: the leaf litter of Quercus liaotungensis-Pinus tabulaeformis, P. tabulaeformis-Betula platyphylla, Q. liaotungensis and P. tabulaeformiss. Second, when litter from one species evaluated, the species enhanced metabolism and diversity in the order of their successional relationship: B. Platyphylla < P. tabulaeformis < Q. liaotungensis. After soils were treated with different leaf litters at 25°C for 7 days, the sorting pattern of the PCA values, based on the similarity of carbon source utilization by the soil microbes, corresponded to the successional pattern on the basis of the similarity of community composition of forest plants. Thus, changes in soil properties caused by leaf litter from different dominant trees probably play a unique role in the successional pattern of a forest community. We thus propose a successional mechanism that underlies the natural succession process within the Malan forest region. When the dominant forest species of the climax successional stage develops during the early successional stages, its forest litter probably alters soil properties such that the soil becomes unsuitable for the gradual growth and regeneration of the original dominant tree species but promotes the growth and establishment of later-invasive plants. In this way, the originally dominant species is replaced by the newly dominant tree species during forest succession.