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Climate change will lead to pronounced shifts in the diversity of soil microbial communities

By Joshua Ladau, Yu Shi, Xin Jing, Jin-Sheng He, Litong Chen, Xiangui Lin, NOAH Fierer, Jack Gilbert, Katherine Pollard, Haiyan Chu

Posted 01 Sep 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/180174

Soil bacteria are key to ecosystem function and maintenance of soil fertility. Leveraging associations of current geographic distributions of bacteria with historic climate, we predict that soil bacterial diversity will increase across the majority (~75%) of the Tibetan Plateau and northern North America if bacterial communities equilibrate with existing climatic conditions. This prediction is possible because the current distributions of soil bacteria have stronger correlations with climate from ~50 years ago than with current climate. This lag is likely associated with the time it takes for soil properties to adjust to changes in climate. The predicted changes are location specific and differ across bacterial taxa, including some bacteria that are predicted to have reductions in their distributions. These findings demonstrate the widespread influence that climate change will have on belowground diversity and highlight the importance of considering bacterial communities when assessing climate impacts on terrestrial ecosystems.

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