Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Microbial response of an acid forest soil to experimental soil warming


S.S. Arnold
I.J. Fernandez
L.M. Zibilske



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Northern Research Station


Biology and Fertility of Soils


Effects of increased soil temperature on soil microbial biomass and dehydrogenase activity were examined on organic (O) horizon material in a low-elevation spruce-fir ecosystem. Soil temperature was maintained at 5 °C above ambient during the growing season in the experimental plots, and soil temperature, moisture, microbial biomass, and dehydrogenase activity were measured during the experiment. An incubation study was also conducted under three temperature regimes, 5, 15, and 25 °C, and under four moisture regimes of 20, 120, 220, and 320% to further evaluate these environmental factors on dehydrogenase activity and microbial biomass. Soil moisture content and microbial biomass controls were significantly lower (30% and 2 µg g–1 soil, respectively) in the heated plots during the treatment period, suggesting that moisture content was important in controlling microbial biomass. In the incubation study, temperature appeared more important than moisture in controlling microbial biomass and dehydrogenase activity. Increasing temperature between 5 °C and 25 °C resulted in significant decreases in microbial biomass and dehydrogenase activity.


Arnold, S.S.; Fernandez, I.J.; Rustad, L.E.; Zibilske, L.M. 1999. Microbial response of an acid forest soil to experimental soil warming. Biology and Fertility of Soils. 30(3): 239-244.


Publication Notes

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.