Recreational camping has been shown to suppress plant cover and expand bare ground area. These shifts have important implications for soil health. We used campsites in a semiarid savanna at the Santa Rita Experimental Range (SRER) in Arizona to test the hypotheses that 1) recreational camping is a disturbance that limits plant cover and soil microbial activity, and 2) the presence of Prosopis, which is known to encourage a fertility island effect, increases soil microbial activity within campsites. Camping disturbance did not influence any sampled measures of edaphic properties, plant cover, or soil microbial biomass and exoenzyme activities. However, the presence of Prosopis resulted in elevated litter, total dissolved nitrogen (TDN), and dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Multiple linear regression models suggest that observed resistance of soil microbial activities to camping disturbance may be due to both increased availability of organic C and N substrates beneath Prosopis and heightened seasonal water availability.
- Extracellular enzyme activity (EEA)
- Fertility island
- Microbial biomass
- Recreation impact
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Soil Science