The species-area relationship is one of the most widely reported ecological theories accounting for biodiversity of plants and animals. However, we lack solid experimental data demonstrating whether this key ecological theorem also applies in the microbial world. Here, we conducted a microcosm study to evaluate the role of habitat area in driving the diversity, abundance, composition and functioning (i.e., four enzyme activities linked to organic matter decomposition) of soil bacterial communities. Thus, we aim to evaluate whether the principle of species-area relationship is potentially applicable to soil microbes. We established a fully factorial experimental design of three island sizes (∼9, 50 and 150 cm2) by two sterile soils (low, high resources). After six months of glasshouse incubation, habitat-area was positively related to bacterial richness, relative abundance of Chloroflexi, Verrucomicrobia and δ-proteobacteria, and soil functions in both soils. Soil with higher resources always had the greatest bacterial richness and functions. Our findings provide a proof of concept by demonstrating the potential importance of both habitat-area and resource availability in driving soil bacterial biodiversity and functioning.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Melissa S. Martin and Merryn Benham for their help with laboratory analyses. This research is supported by the ARC project DP13010484 . DJE was supported by the Hermon Slade Foundation . M.D-B. acknowledges support from the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme H2020-MSCA-IF-2016 under REA grant agreement n° 702057 .
- Bacterial diversity
- Ecological theory
- Extracellular enzyme activities
- Miseq Illumina
- Quantitative PCR