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Moisture Effects On Microbial Communities In Boreal Forest Floors Are Stand-dependent

M. Swallow, S. Quideau
Published 2013 · Environmental Science

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Abstract Landscape level factors such as overstory canopy composition can have a profound effect on the ecology of microbial communities in boreal forest floors. However, factors influencing community composition at the microsite scale are still poorly described and understood. Here we explored moisture effects on microbial communities in forest floor derived from undisturbed trembling aspen and white spruce stands, two of the dominant trees in the boreal forest of western Canada. Forest floor samples were incubated in a laboratory experiment for a period of one month under a moisture regime ranging from moist to dry (field capacity, 60% of field capacity and wilting point). As in previous studies we found that the origin of the forest floor material had a strong effect on the microbial community. Additionally, we found that moisture manipulation did not alter the microbial communities of the white spruce forest floor. On the other hand, the moisture had a profound effect on the aspen forest floor, and resulted in structurally and functionally distinct microbial communities. This different response to moisture could be linked to the adaptation of microbial groups to the physical environment inherent to the aspen and spruce forest floors and provides an avenue to further work into microbial mediated biogeochemical processes in the boreal forest.
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