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WWRC 84-07
Distribution of Denitrifying and Sulfate Reducing Bacteria Within a Riparian Zone Along a Mountain Stream


The presence and activity of denitrifying bacteria as well as bacteria capable of reducing sulfate in one upland and five riparian soils of a mountain watershed in Wyoming were studied. Bacteria were enumerated from soil samples collected during summer along transacts placed perpendicular to stream flow. Samples were taken at three depths within each plant community. Subsamples were frozen and later utilized to determine denitrification potential.

Higher counts of total heterotrophic aerobic bacteria, sulfate-reducing bacteria, denitrifying bacteria and denitrification potential existed in the upper 5 to 15 cm of soil than at 30 cm. Soils located close to the streams edge tended to have more bacterial activity than those further from the stream indicating that these soils may be important areas for nitrate and sulfate reduction. Soil organic matter and water content decreased with depth in all plant communities, and those closer to the stream contained more organic matter and water than those further from the stream.

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