The distribution and abundance of microbiota in soil and litter may be significantly affected by the quality and quantity of localized patches of leaf organic matter. This study examined the relative effects of aqueous extracts of shed autumn leaves from American beech (Fagus grandifolia), sugar maple (Acer soccharum), red oak (Quercus rubra), and white oak (Quercus alba) on the density and diversity of gymnamoebae in laboratory cultures. Overall, the beech leaf extract produced the most growth of gymnamoebae followed by white oak with leaf extracts from maple and red oak producing least growth. Cultures using natural leaf litter from beneath beech trees had higher densities and diversity of gymnamoebae than leaf-litter cultures from a maple-oak stand. Soil microcosms confirmed that beech leaf extracts produced a higher density of gymnamoeba growth when added to soil Cultures compared with maple and oak leaf extracts. Protein content, CHN (carbon and nitrogen content), and pH of the leaf extracts were assayed, but these alone were not Sufficiently different to account for the effects. A dilution experiment indicated that some other concentration-dependent factor in the extract may produce the, effects.
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