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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Spatial scaling of forest soil microbial communities across a temperature gradient


Temperature is an important correlate of global patterns of biodiversity, yet the mechanisms driving these relationships are not well understood. Taxa-area relationships (TARs) have been intensively examined, but the effects of temperature on TARs, particularly for microbial communities, are largely undocumented. Here we present a continental-scale description of temperature-dependent nested TARs of microbial communities (bacteria and archaea) from soils of six forest sites spanning a temperature gradient from subalpine Colorado to tropical Panama. Our results revealed that spatial scaling rates (z-values) of microbial communities varied with both taxonomic resolutions and phylogenetic groups. Additionally, microbial TAR z-values increased with temperature (r = 0.739, P < 0.05), but were not correlated with other environmental variables tested (P > 0.05), indicating that microbial spatial scaling rate is temperature-dependent. Understanding how temperature affects the spatial scaling of microbial biodiversity is of fundamental importance for preservation of soil biodiversity and management of ecosystems.

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