3 years ago

Soil microbial community composition in tallgrass prairie restorations converge with remnants across a 27-year chronosequence

Jared P. Sherwood, Karley M. Chantos-Davidson, Nicholas A. Barber, Rene Amel Peralta, Wesley D. Swingley
Restoration and management of natural ecosystems is a critical strategy in mitigating global biodiversity loss. This is exemplified in the American Midwest by efforts aimed at reclaiming historical grasslands lost to high-yield agriculture. While restorations traditionally take the form of plant reintroduction and management, advances in microbial analyses suggest that soil communities could be indicators restoration success. However, current understanding of key microbial taxa and functional activities in both natural and restored ecosystems is limited. Here, we investigated the impact of nearly 30 years of carefully managed restoration on soil microbial communities at the Nachusa Grasslands in northern Illinois, USA. We characterized bacterial and archaeal communities in a chronosequence of restored tallgrass prairies ranging from 1 to 27 years old across a growing season and compared them to communities in pre-restoration agricultural fields and remnant prairies. Results indicate that older restorations harboured communities statistically distinct from newer restorations. These communities converged toward those in local prairie remnants, suggesting that plant-focussed restoration has yielded soil bacterial communities reflective of a successful restoration. Recovery of microbial clades within the Verrucomicrobia and Acidobacteria are an important feature of this convergence, and these groups could be targeted for future soil-focussed, bottom-up restoration studies.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.13785

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