Contrasting effects of urban habitat complexity on metabolic functional diversity and composition of litter and soil bacterial communities

Alessandro Ossola*, Cristina Aponte, Amy K. Hahs, Stephen J. Livesley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Functional diversity and composition of soil bacterial communities affect important soil biogeochemical processes. In natural and semi-natural ecosystems, variations in habitat complexity have been shown to significantly impact both litter and soil bacterial communities. However, this remains largely untested in urban ecosystems, where human management can lead to habitat complexity combinations unobserved in rural ecosystems. We established 10 research plots in low-complexity park, high-complexity park, and high-complexity remnant habitat types (n = 30) in Melbourne, Australia. The use of organic carbon substrates by soil and litter bacteria was measured using EcoPlates to investigate the effects of habitat complexity upon metabolic functional diversity and functional composition of bacterial communities of i) soil and ii) one-year old litter. Direct and indirect effects of habitat complexity, microclimate and decomposition status upon litter microbial functional diversity and composition were also modelled using path analysis. Soil bacterial communities had significantly higher functional diversity compared to litter bacterial communities, but no significant effect of habitat complexity was apparent. The functional composition of soil bacterial communities was not affected by habitat complexity. In contrast, the functional composition of litter bacterial communities in high complexity parks and remnants was significantly different from that in low-complexity parks. The functional composition of litter bacterial communities, but not their diversity, was directly affected by habitat complexity and microclimate as well as their indirect effects upon the decomposition status of litter. Human management of urban habitat complexity can alter the functional composition of litter and soil bacterial communities without affecting their functional diversity. While this can have significant impacts on bacteria-regulated processes and ecosystem services, it also suggests that urban bacterial communities might be able to adjust to further environmental and climatic changes affecting urban ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-607
Number of pages13
JournalUrban Ecosystems
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • evenness
  • habitat structure
  • habitat management
  • time since land-use change
  • microclimate
  • understory

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