An Evaluation of Soil Extracellular Enzyme Activity in Response to Burning as a Forest Restoration Technique

Steward, William M. (2014) An Evaluation of Soil Extracellular Enzyme Activity in Response to Burning as a Forest Restoration Technique. Undergraduate thesis, under the direction of Colin Jackson from Biology, The University of Mississippi.


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Burning is a method of forest restoration with the goal of returning natural tree species to ecosystems. Burning has a wide range of effects on an ecosystem, including the alteration of important soil processes and characteristics. One of the key components of soil is the activity of extracellular enzymes, which can be used to provide insight into the nutritional requirements of soil microbes as well as nutrient availability and cycling. Because enzymes are important in the overall functioning of soil and can be used to assess soil health, there is great need to examine the effects of burning on soil enzyme activity. The aim of this study was to assess differences in the activity of five enzymes (phosphatase, β-glucosidase, NAGase, phenol oxidase, and peroxidase) in response to historical burning, as compared to an unburned plot. Soil samples were collected from three sites (unburned, prescribed burn, and wildfire) in an upland forest of north Mississippi and assayed for enzyme activity. NAGase and phenol oxidase activity was higher in the burned plot, while phosphatase and β-glucosidase activity was lower, and peroxidase was generally unaffected. While enzyme activity is subject to change following burning, how certain enzymes respond is yet to be determined. However, the enzymes assayed in this study proved to be sensitive to fire, suggesting that soil enzyme activity can be used as a measure of soil quality or health during the restoration process.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Creators: Steward, William M.
Student's Degree Program(s): B.A. in Biology
Thesis Advisor: Colin Jackson
Thesis Advisor's Department: Biology
Institution: The University of Mississippi
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Depositing User: Unnamed user with email
Date Deposited: 08 May 2014 19:16
Last Modified: 08 May 2014 19:16

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