Project description:Global climate models predict a future of increased severity of drought in many tropical forests. Soil microbes are central to the balance of these systems as sources or sinks of atmospheric carbon (C), yet how they respond metabolically to drought is not well-understood. We simulated drought in the typically aseasonal Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico, by intercepting precipitation falling through the forest canopy. This approach reduced soil moisture by 13% and water potential by 0.14 MPa (from -0.2 to -0.34). Previous results from this experiment have demonstrated that the diversity and composition of these soil microbial communities are sensitive to even small changes in soil water. Here, we show prolonged drought significantly alters the functional potential of the community and provokes a clear osmotic stress response, including the production of compatible solutes that increase intracellular C demand. Subsequently, a microbial population emerges with a greater capacity for extracellular enzyme production targeting macromolecular carbon. Significantly, some of these drought-induced functional shifts in the soil microbiota are attenuated by prior exposure to a short-term drought suggesting that acclimation may occur despite a lack of longer-term drought history.
Project description:The effects of late Quaternary climate on distributions and evolutionary dynamics of insular species are poorly understood in most tropical archipelagoes. We used ecological niche models under past and current climate to derive hypotheses regarding how stable climatic conditions shaped genetic diversity in two ecologically distinctive frogs in Puerto Rico. Whereas the Mountain Coquí, Eleutherodactylus portoricensis, is restricted to montane forest in the Cayey and Luquillo Mountains, the Red-eyed Coquí, E. antillensis, is a habitat generalist distributed across the entire Puerto Rican Bank (Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, excluding St. Croix). To test our hypotheses, we conducted phylogeographic and population genetic analyses based on mitochondrial and nuclear loci of each species across their range in Puerto Rico. Patterns of population differentiation in E. portoricensis, but not in E. antillensis, supported our hypotheses. For E. portoricensis, these patterns include: individuals isolated by long-term unsuitable climate in the Río Grande de Loíza Basin in eastern Puerto Rico belong to different genetic clusters; past and current climate strongly predicted genetic differentiation; and Cayey and Luquillo Mountains populations split prior to the last interglacial. For E. antillensis, these patterns include: genetic clusters did not fully correspond to predicted long-term unsuitable climate; and past and current climate weakly predicted patterns of genetic differentiation. Genetic signatures in E. antillensis are consistent with a recent range expansion into western Puerto Rico, possibly resulting from climate change and anthropogenic influences. As predicted, regions with a large area of long-term suitable climate were associated with higher genetic diversity in both species, suggesting larger and more stable populations. Finally, we discussed the implications of our findings for developing evidence-based management decisions for E. portoricensis, a taxon of special concern. Our findings illustrate the role of persistent suitable climatic conditions in promoting the persistence and diversification of tropical island organisms.
Project description:Global climate models project a decrease in the magnitude of precipitation in tropical regions. Changes in rainfall patterns have important implications for the moisture content and redox status of tropical soils, yet little is known about how these changes may affect microbial community structure. Specifically, does exposure to prior stress confer increased resistance to subsequent perturbation? Here we reduced the quantity of precipitation throughfall to tropical forest soils in the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico. Treatments included newly established throughfall exclusion plots (de novo excluded), plots undergoing reduction for a second time (pre-excluded) and ambient control plots. Ten months of throughfall exclusion led to a small but statistically significant decline in soil water potential and bacterial populations clearly adapted to increased osmotic stress. Although the water potential decline was small and microbial biomass did not change, phylogenetic diversity in the de novo-excluded plots decreased by ?40% compared with the control plots, yet pre-excluded plots showed no significant change. On the other hand, the relative abundances of bacterial taxa in both the de novo-excluded and pre-excluded plots changed significantly with throughfall exclusion compared with control plots. Changes in bacterial community structure could be explained by changes in soil pore water chemistry and suggested changes in soil redox. Soluble iron declined in treatment plots and was correlated with decreased soluble phosphorus concentrations, which may have significant implications for microbial productivity in these P-limited systems.