Woody vegetation and soil characteristics of residential forest patches and open spaces along an urban-to-rural gradient
As the process of urbanization advances across the country, so does the importance of urban forests, which include both trees and the soils in which they grow. Soil microbial biomass, which plays a critical role in nutrient transformation in urban ecosystems, is affected by factors such as soil type and the availability of water, carbon, and nitrogen. The aim of this study was to characterize residual forest patches and open fields in residential areas in the City of Knoxville. A field study was conducted to investigate tree species diversity and determine spatial and temporal soil characteristics along an urban-to-rural gradient. Tree diversity did not differ significantly for residential urban and rural plots in Knoxville, Tennessee. Biologically, there was no indication that soils were affected by tree diversity, in terms of soil microbial biomass C/N along an urban-to-rural gradient in Knoxville residential plots. Rural soils did differ physically from urban soils, cation exchange capacity (CEC) and soil moisture content (GSM). Similarly, physical soil properties such as bulk density, both urban and rural sites were negatively correlated with tree diversity. Results indicate that although the urban-rural gradient is subject to urban environmental stressors, the urban ecosystem is resilient in maintaining the ecosystem functions of more natural systems.