Resource landscape, microbial activity, and community composition under wintering crane activities in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea

Kyungjin Min, Myung Ae Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Endangered cranes migrate to the Demilitarized Zone in Korea in search for habitat and food during winter. While cranes have the potential to influence soil biogeochemical processes via dropping, foraging, and walking, few studies have investigated ecological roles of migrating birds in the new habitat. Here, we explored how cranes alter resource landscape (the amount and quality of carbon) and microbial community in soil. We set up control (fenced, no crane access) and treatment (free crane activities) plots (n = 6, respectively) in a rice paddy, and collected soils at 0–15 cm three months after the crane migration. Soils were tested for total carbon, total nitrogen, water extractable organic carbon, and Diffuse Reflectance Infrared Fourier Transform Spectroscopy, along with microbial parameters (biomass, respiration, community composition). The wintering crane activity significantly increased total carbon and nitrogen contents, but decreased the ratio of CH (aliphatic) to COO (carboxylic) in soil. Also, both microbial biomass and respiration was greater in soils under crane activities. Bacterial and fungal community composition differed with or without crane activities, with treatment soils harboring more diverse microbial communities. Our results demonstrate that crane migration created a distinct system with altered resource landscape and microbial community, highlighting beneficial effects of migratory cranes on the soil biogeochemical processes in rice paddies. This study may help encourage more farmers, local governments, and the public to participate in crane conservation campaigns targeted at rice fields.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0268461
JournalPloS one
Issue number5 May
Publication statusPublished - 2022 May

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) (NRF-2018R1A5A7025409 to KM and MC and NRF-2019H1D3A1A01070116 to MC). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. We appreciate Kyung-Won Seo, Jong-Soo Choi, Yong-Bin Kim (local farmers of Cheorwon for allowing us to get access to the study site and perform field work. We are also grateful to Dr. Wook-Hyun Nahm for the help of field work, Dr. So-Jeong Kim for the access to the labs at Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, and Drs. Seonghwa Yoo and Kisup Lee for inviting us to the crane surveys

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright: © 2022 Min, Choi. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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