Snow cover manipulation effects on microbial community structure and soil chemistry in a mountain bog
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Background and Aims
Alterations in snow cover driven by climate change may impact ecosystem functioning, including biogeochemistry and soil (microbial) processes. We elucidated the effects of snow cover manipulation (SCM) on above-and belowground processes in a temperate peatland.
In a Swiss mountain-peatland we manipulated snow cover (addition, removal and control), and assessed the effects on Andromeda polifolia root enzyme activity, soil microbial community structure, and leaf tissue and soil biogeochemistry.
Reduced snow cover produced warmer soils in our experiment while increased snow cover kept soil temperatures close-to-freezing. SCM had a major influence on the microbial community, and prolonged ‘close-to-freezing’ temperatures caused a shift in microbial communities toward fungal dominance. Soil temperature largely explained soil microbial structure, while other descriptors such as root enzyme activity and pore-water chemistry interacted less with the soil microbial communities.
We envisage that SCM-driven changes in the microbial community composition could lead to substantial changes in trophic fluxes and associated ecosystem processes. Hence, we need to improve our understanding on the impact of frost and freeze-thaw cycles on the microbial food web and its implications for peatland ecosystem processes in a changing climate; in particular for the fate of the sequestered carbon.
KeywordsSoil bacterial and fungal communities Peatland Phosphatase activity Phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA) Snow cover manipulation Winter Ecology
We would like to thank the “Service des forêts, de la faune et de la nature (SFFN)-Canton Vaud” and “Pro Nature-Vaud” for authorization to access the study site. Sonia Mauerhofer is acknowledged for assistance in site selection, and Annebet Brühl for assistance in field sampling. Robert TE Mills corrected our English, for which many thanks. We thank two anonymous referees and Tim Moore for helpful suggestions on earlier versions of this paper. This study was supported by the Division for Earth and Life Sciences (ALW) with financial aid from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO; Research Innovation Scheme grant 863.10.014) granted to BJMR, by BiodivERsA-PEATBOG which is funded as an ERA-net project within the European Union’s 6th Framework Programme for Research through NWO-ALW (grant 832.09.003), and was partly funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant 205321–129981 to LB). We are also indebted to the Miquel Foundation (UU), the Foundation for the Conservation of Irish Bogs, and the Schure-Beijerink-Popping Foundation (KNAW) for financial support to AH.
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