Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1111/1365-2664.14004
Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) Low-intensity land-use enhances soil microbial activity, biomass, and fungal-to-bacterial ratio in current and future climates
Author Sünnemann, M.; Alt, C.; Kostin, J.; Lochner, A.; Reitz, T.; Siebert, J.; Schädler, M.; Eisenhauer, N.
Source Titel Journal of Applied Ecology
Year 2021
Department BZF; BOOEK; iDiv
Volume 58
Issue 11
Page From 2614
Page To 2625
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
Data and Software links
Keywords Land-use intensity; climate change, soil microbial activity; soil microbial biomass; soil microbial community; fungal to bacterial ratio; F/B ratio; AM fungi
  1. Progressing climate change and intensified land-use exert unprecedented pressures on soil microbial communities, thus endangering the essential ecosystem functions they provide. However, these global change factors do not act in isolation from each other, making ecosystem consequences hard to predict.
  2. To address this knowledge gap, we tested the interactive effects of climate change and land-use intensity on soil microbial activity, biomass, and community composition in a large-scale field experiment. We tested soil microbial responses to a future climate scenario (ambient climate versus increased temperature by +0.6°C and altered rainfall patterns) in two land-use types (cropland versus grassland) with two levels of land-use intensity each (high-intensity versus low-intensity). While high-intensity land-use is characterized by fertilization and pesticide use, low-intensity land-use refrains from both. We measured soil microbial activity and biomass twice per year within a 5-year period and used phospholipid fatty acid analysis to explore changes in microbial community composition.
  3. In contrast to our expectations, soil microbes remained largely unaffected by future climate conditions. However, we found evidence that not just the type of land-use, but also their respective management intensity (high versus low) had strong effects on soil microbes. Low-intensity management promoted soil microbial activity and biomass in grasslands, but this beneficial effect needed several years to establish. Moreover, we show that low-intensity management increased AM fungi and fungal-to-bacterial ratios in croplands as well as grasslands.
  4. Our study shows that farmers can promote soil ecosystem functions through low-intensity management measures. In grassland (1), low-intensity management measures such as high plant diversity consisting of grasses, forbs, and legumes, and no mineral fertilization improve soil microbial activity and biomass, as well as the fungal-to-bacterial ratios. On arable land (2), compliance with EU organic farming regulations improves the fungal-to-bacterial ratios. We conclude that low-intensity management can have positive effects on efficient carbon storage, nutrient cycling, soil erosion control, and ecosystem multifunctionality under different land-use and climate change scenarios.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Sünnemann, M., Alt, C., Kostin, J., Lochner, A., Reitz, T., Siebert, J., Schädler, M., Eisenhauer, N. (2021):
Low-intensity land-use enhances soil microbial activity, biomass, and fungal-to-bacterial ratio in current and future climates
J. Appl. Ecol. 58 (11), 2614 - 2625 10.1111/1365-2664.14004