FCE LTER Journal Articles


Patterns of Soil Bacteria and Canopy Community Structure Related to Tropical Peatland Development


Natural environmental gradients provide important information about the ecological constraints on plant and microbial community structure. In a tropical peatland of Panama, we investigated community structure (forest canopy and soil bacteria) and microbial community function (soil enzyme activities and respiration) along an ecosystem development gradient that coincided with a natural P gradient. Highly structured plant and bacterial communities that correlated with gradients in phosphorus status and soil organic matter content characterized the peatland. A secondary gradient in soil porewater NH4 described significant variance in soil microbial respiration and β-1-4-glucosidase activity. Covariation of canopy and soil bacteria taxa contributed to a better understanding of ecological classifications for biotic communities with applicability for tropical peatland ecosystems of Central America. Moreover, plants and soils, linked primarily through increasing P deficiency, influenced strong patterning of plant and bacterial community structure related to the development of this tropical peatland ecosystem.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DBI-0620409 and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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