TAMU Ecological Integration Symposium 

Julie Foote, a PhD student in ESSM, won 3rd place in the graduate student poster session at the TAMU Ecological Integration Symposium held on campus last week.  Her poster was entitled:   “Forest management impacts on soil carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus storage in the western Gulf Coastal Plain.”

Forest management impacts on soil carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus storage in the western Gulf Coastal Plain

Carbon sequestration by forests represents an important ecosystem service which regulates atmospheric CO2 concentration; however, disturbances due to forest management practices could have profound effects on soil fertility and C storage.  The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of tree harvest intensity (bole only; whole tree; whole tree + forest floor removal) and soil compaction intensity on soil C, N, and P pools in a loblolly pine forest in the western Gulf Coastal Plain 15 yrs after treatment.  Soils were sampled 5X during 2011–2012, and analyzed for bulk density, soil organic C (SOC), total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), and soil microbial biomass-C and –N (SMB-C, SMB-N).  Soil compaction had no effect on the measured soil properties.  Soil TN, SOC, and TP were higher in the bole only treatment compared to the more severe harvest treatments, but significant only for TN.  Tree harvest intensity had a significant negative effect on SMB-C and -N.  Data suggest that forest harvest that minimizes removal of tree biomass will favor soil C, N, and P retention, and the maintenance of the SMB pool.  Since N and P limit tree growth in the western Gulf Coastal Plain’s sandy soils, and because SMB plays a key role in N and P mineralization, harvest practices that favor retention of these nutrients and SMB will ensure the productivity of future rotations.  Results also suggest that tree harvest practices that effect soil fertility may limit southern pine forests as a CO2 sink.

Congratulations Julie !

BIOGRAPHY:

Julie Foote has an M.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Texas at San Antonio, where her thesis project examined the microbial community fingerprints using fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) analysis of disturbed grassland and more native grassland sites in the Texas Hill Country.  She also earned her B.S. in Biology at the University of Texas at San Antonio, emphasizing ecology-based courses.  Current research, under Tom Boutton, involves the examination of biogeochemical cycling in east Texas Pinus taeda forests in response to forest harvest intensity and soil compaction intensity with an emphasis on carbon and nitrogen dynamics.

Julie Foote