Climate mediates continental scale patterns of stream microbial functional diversity.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Understanding the large-scale patterns of microbial functional diversity is essential for anticipating climate change impacts on ecosystems worldwide. However, studies of functional biogeography remain scarce for microorganisms, especially in freshwater ecosystems. Here we study 15,289 functional genes of stream biofilm microbes along three elevational gradients in Norway, Spain and China. RESULTS:We find that alpha diversity declines towards high elevations and assemblage composition shows increasing turnover with greater elevational distances. These elevational patterns are highly consistent across mountains, kingdoms and functional categories and exhibit the strongest trends in China due to its largest environmental gradients. Across mountains, functional gene assemblages differ in alpha diversity and composition between the mountains in Europe and Asia. Climate, such as mean temperature of the warmest quarter or mean precipitation of the coldest quarter, is the best predictor of alpha diversity and assemblage composition at both mountain and continental scales, with local non-climatic predictors gaining more importance at mountain scale. Under future climate, we project substantial variations in alpha diversity and assemblage composition across the Eurasian river network, primarily occurring in northern and central regions, respectively. CONCLUSIONS:We conclude that climate controls microbial functional gene diversity in streams at large spatial scales; therefore, the underlying ecosystem processes are highly sensitive to climate variations, especially at high latitudes. This biogeographical framework for microbial functional diversity serves as a baseline to anticipate ecosystem responses and biogeochemical feedback to ongoing climate change. Video Abstract.
Project description:Global warming has shifted climate zones poleward or upward. However, understanding the responses and mechanism of microbial community structure and functions relevant to natural climate zone succession is challenged by the high complexity of microbial communities. Here, we examined soil microbial community in three broadleaved forests located in the Wulu Mountain (WLM, temperate climate), Funiu Mountain (FNM, at the border of temperate and subtropical climate zones), or Shennongjia Mountain (SNJ, subtropical climate).Soils were characterized for geochemistry, Illumina sequencing was used to determine microbial taxonomic communities and GeoChips 5.0 were used to determine microbial functional genes. Overall design: Thirty samples were collected from three mountains in temperate and subtropical zones, with 10 replicates in every site
Project description:Elevational gradients strongly affect microbial biodiversity in bulk soil through altering plant and soil properties, but the effects on rhizosphere microbial patterns remain unclear, especially at large spatial scales. We therefore designed an elevational gradient experiment to examine rhizosphere microbial (bacteria, fungi and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) diversity and composition using Illumina sequencing of the 16S rRNA and ITS genes for comparison to plant and soil properties. Our results showed that bacterial and fungal alpha diversity was significantly higher at mid-elevation, while AMF alpha diversity decreased monotonically. The beta diversities of the three groups were significantly affected by elevational gradients, but the effect on bacterial beta diversity was larger than on fungal and AMF beta diversity. Proteobacteria, the dominant phyla of bacteria, was significantly higher at the mid-elevation, while Acidobacteria and Actinobacteria significantly decreased as elevation increased. The main fungal taxa, Basidiomycota, significantly decreased with elevation, and Ascomycota significantly increased with elevation. Glomeromycota, the dominant AMF phyla, responded insignificantly to the elevational gradients. The responses of bacterial and fungal alpha diversity were mostly associated with tree diversity and organic carbon, whereas AMF alpha diversity mainly depended on litter N and P. Changes in bacterial community composition along the elevational gradient were explained primarily by litter N and P, and litter P was the main driver of fungal and AMF community composition. Overall, our results suggest that plant litter, particularly litter N and P, were the main source of external carbon input and drove the observed differences in rhizosphere microbial diversity and community composition. Our results highlight the importance of litter nutrition in structuring rhizosphere microbial communities in mountain ecosystems.
Project description:The elevational and latitudinal diversity patterns of microbial taxa have attracted great attention in the past decade. Recently, the distribution of functional attributes has been in the spotlight. Here, we report a study profiling soil microbial communities along an elevation gradient (500-2200 m) on Changbai Mountain. Using a comprehensive functional gene microarray (GeoChip 5.0), we found that microbial functional gene richness exhibited a dramatic increase at the treeline ecotone, but the bacterial taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity based on 16S rRNA gene sequencing did not exhibit such a similar trend. However, the ?-diversity (compositional dissimilarity among sites) pattern for both bacterial taxa and functional genes was similar, showing significant elevational distance-decay patterns which presented increased dissimilarity with elevation. The bacterial taxonomic diversity/structure was strongly influenced by soil pH, while the functional gene diversity/structure was significantly correlated with soil dissolved organic carbon (DOC). This finding highlights that soil DOC may be a good predictor in determining the elevational distribution of microbial functional genes. The finding of significant shifts in functional gene diversity at the treeline ecotone could also provide valuable information for predicting the responses of microbial functions to climate change.
Project description:Studies on elevational gradients in biodiversity have accumulated in recent decades. However, few studies have compared the elevational patterns of diversity between the different slopes of a single mountain. We investigated the elevational distribution of rodent diversity (alpha and beta diversity) and its underlying mechanisms along the southern and northern slopes of Mt. Taibai, the highest mountain in the Qinling Mountains, China. The species richness of rodents on the two slopes showed distinct distribution patterns, with a monotonically decreasing pattern found along the southern slope and a hump-shaped elevational pattern evident along the northern slope. Multi-model inference suggested that temperature was an important explanatory factor for the richness pattern along the southern slope, and the mid-domain effect (MDE) was important in explaining the richness pattern along the northern slope. The two slopes also greatly differed in the elevational patterns of species turnover, with the southern slope demonstrating a U-shaped curve and the northern slope possessing a roughly hump-shaped pattern. Our results suggest that even within the same mountain, organisms inhabiting different slopes may possess distinct diversity patterns, and the underlying mechanisms may also differ. The potential role of the factors associated with slope aspect in shaping diversity, therefore, cannot be ignored.
Project description:The mechanisms underlying elevation patterns in species and phylogenetic diversity remain a central issue in ecology and are vital for effective biodiversity conservation in the mountains. Gongga Mountain, located in the southeastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, represents one of the longest elevational gradients (ca. 6,500 m, from ca. 1,000 to 7,556 m) in the world for studying species diversity patterns. However, the elevational gradient and conservation of plant species diversity and phylogenetic diversity in this mountain remain poorly studied. Here, we compiled the elevational distributions of 2,667 native seed plant species occurring in Gongga Mountain, and estimated the species diversity, phylogenetic diversity, species density, and phylogenetic relatedness across ten elevation belts and five vegetation zones. The results indicated that species diversity and phylogenetic diversity of all seed plants showed a hump-shaped pattern, peaking at 1,800-2,200 m. Species diversity was significantly correlated with phylogenetic diversity and species density. The floras in temperate coniferous broad-leaved mixed forests, subalpine coniferous forests, and alpine shrublands and meadows were significantly phylogenetically clustered, whereas the floras in evergreen broad-leaved forests had phylogenetically random structure. Both climate and human pressure had strong correlation with species diversity, phylogenetic diversity, and phylogenetic structure of seed plants. Our results suggest that the evergreen broad-leaved forests and coniferous broad-leaved mixed forests at low to mid elevations deserve more conservation efforts. This study improves our understanding on the elevational gradients of species and phylogenetic diversity and their determinants and provides support for improvement of seed plant conservation in Gongga Mountain.
Project description:Mountain elevation gradients are invaluable sites for understanding the effects of climate change on ecosystem function, community structure and distribution. However, relatively little is known about the impact on soil microbial communities, in spite of their importance for the functioning of the soil ecosystem. Previous studies of microbial diversity along elevational gradients were often limited by confounding variables such as vegetation, pH, and nutrients. Here, we utilised a transect in the Pyrenees established to minimise variation in such parameters, to examine prokaryotic, fungal, protist and metazoan communities throughout three consecutive years. We aimed to determine the influences of climate and environmental parameters on soil microbial community structure; as well as on the relationships between those microbial communities. Further, functional diversity of heterotrophic bacteria was determined using Biolog. Prokaryotic and fungal community structure, but not alpha-diversity, correlated significantly with elevation. However, carbon-to-nitrogen ratio and pH appeared to affect prokaryotic and protist communities more strongly. Both community structure and physicochemical parameters varied considerably between years, illustrating the value of long-term monitoring of the dynamic processes controlling the soil ecosystem. Our study also illustrates both the challenges and strengths of using microbial communities as indicators of potential impacts of climate change.
Project description:Mountains produce distinct environmental gradients that may constrain or facilitate both the presence of avian species and/or specific combinations of functional traits. We addressed species richness and functional diversity to understand the relative importance of habitat structure and elevation in shaping avian diversity patterns in the south temperate Andes, Chile. During 2010-2018, we conducted 2202 point-counts in four mountain habitats (successional montane forest, old-growth montane forest, subalpine, and alpine) from 211 to 1,768 m in elevation and assembled trait data associated with resource use for each species to estimate species richness and functional diversity and turnover. We detected 74 species. Alpine specialists included 16 species (22%) occurring only above treeline with a mean elevational range of 298 m, while bird communities below treeline (78%) occupied a mean elevational range of 1,081 m. Treeline was an inflection line, above which species composition changed by 91% and there was a greater turnover in functional traits (2-3 times greater than communities below treeline). Alpine birds were almost exclusively migratory, inhabiting a restricted elevational range, and breeding in rock cavities. We conclude that elevation and habitat heterogeneity structure avian trait distributions and community composition, with a diverse ecotonal sub-alpine and a distinct alpine community.
Project description:High-altitude-adapted ectotherms can escape competition from dominant species by tolerating low temperatures at cooler elevations, but climate change is eroding such advantages. Studies evaluating broad-scale impacts of global change for high-altitude organisms often overlook the mitigating role of biotic factors. Yet, at fine spatial-scales, vegetation-associated microclimates provide refuges from climatic extremes. Using one of the largest standardised data sets collected to date, we tested how ant species composition and functional diversity (i.e., the range and value of species traits found within assemblages) respond to large-scale abiotic factors (altitude, aspect), and fine-scale factors (vegetation, soil structure) along an elevational gradient in tropical Africa. Altitude emerged as the principal factor explaining species composition. Analysis of nestedness and turnover components of beta diversity indicated that ant assemblages are specific to each elevation, so species are not filtered out but replaced with new species as elevation increases. Similarity of assemblages over time (assessed using beta decay) did not change significantly at low and mid elevations but declined at the highest elevations. Assemblages also differed between northern and southern mountain aspects, although at highest elevations, composition was restricted to a set of species found on both aspects. Functional diversity was not explained by large scale variables like elevation, but by factors associated with elevation that operate at fine scales (i.e., temperature and habitat structure). Our findings highlight the significance of fine-scale variables in predicting organisms' responses to changing temperature, offering management possibilities that might dilute climate change impacts, and caution when predicting assemblage responses using climate models, alone.
Project description:The 'mountain passes are higher in the tropics' (MPHT) hypothesis posits that reduced climate variability at low latitudes should select for narrower thermal tolerances, lower dispersal and smaller elevational ranges compared with higher latitudes. These latitudinal differences could increase species richness at low latitudes, but that increase may be largely cryptic, because physiological and dispersal traits isolating populations might not correspond to morphological differences. Yet previous tests of the MPHT hypothesis have not addressed cryptic diversity. We use integrative taxonomy, combining morphology (6136 specimens) and DNA barcoding (1832 specimens) to compare the species richness, cryptic diversity and elevational ranges of mayflies (Ephemeroptera) in the Rocky Mountains (Colorado; approx. 40°N) and the Andes (Ecuador; approx. 0°). We find higher species richness and smaller elevational ranges in Ecuador than Colorado, but only after quantifying and accounting for cryptic diversity. The opposite pattern is found when comparing diversity based on morphology alone, underscoring the importance of uncovering cryptic species to understand global biodiversity patterns.
Project description:Recently, new alternative matrices of biodiversity such as phylogenetic and functional diversity as a complement to species diversity have provided new insights into the mechanisms of community assembly. In this study, we analyzed the phylogenetic signals of five functional traits and the relative contribution of environmental variables and distance matrices to the alpha and beta components of taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity in woody plant assemblages along four local elevational transects on two different mountains. We observed low but significant phylogenetic signals of functional traits, which suggest that phylogenetic dispersion can provide a rough approximation of functional dispersion but not perfect correlations between phylogenetic and functional diversity. Taxonomic alpha diversity showed a monotonic decline with elevation, and climatic variables were the main drivers of this pattern along all studied transects. Furthermore, although the phylogenetic and functional alpha dispersions showed different elevational patterns including increase, decrease and no relationship, the underlying processes driving the patterns of both types of alpha dispersion could be explained by the gradients of climatic and habitat variables as well as biotic interactions such as competition. These results suggest that both alpha dispersion patterns may be significantly controlled by niche-based deterministic processes such as biotic interactions and environmental filtering in our study areas. Moreover, the beta diversity with geographical distances showed distance-decay relationships for all transects. Although the relative importance of the environmental and geographical distances for beta diversity varied across the three facets of diversity and the transects, we generally found that environmental distances were more important for the beta components of the three facets of diversity. However, we cannot discriminate the effects of both distances on the three facets of diversity. Therefore, our study suggests that niche-based deterministic processes, potentially combined with neutral processes such as dispersal limitation and demographic stochasticity, may influence patterns of woody plant assemblage turnover in our study areas.