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PeerJ  2015 

Microbial communities respond to experimental warming, but site matters

DOI: 10.7717/peerj.358

Keywords: Decomposition,Microbial communities,Global warming,Soil enzyme activity,Eastern deciduous forests,Ecosystem function

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Abstract:

Because microorganisms are sensitive to temperature, ongoing global warming is predicted to influence microbial community structure and function. We used large-scale warming experiments established at two sites near the northern and southern boundaries of US eastern deciduous forests to explore how microbial communities and their function respond to warming at sites with differing climatic regimes. Soil microbial community structure and function responded to warming at the southern but not the northern site. However, changes in microbial community structure and function at the southern site did not result in changes in cellulose decomposition rates. While most global change models rest on the assumption that taxa will respond similarly to warming across sites and their ranges, these results suggest that the responses of microorganisms to warming may be mediated by differences across the geographic boundaries of ecosystems.

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