In the contest of global warming, it is important to understand the sensitivity of soil respiration to climatic changes, since it is anticipated than in a warmer world ecosystems provide a positive feedback to the greenhouse effect due to the stronger response of respiratory processes to temperature, compared to assimilatory processes. However, most of these predictions are based on empirical assumptions.
To understand how terrestrial ecosystems may respond to climate change is therefore important to understand how soil microbial communities will adapt to selective environmental pressure. Biodiversity is an important ecological feature related to ecosystem functioning, but very little is known about the mechanism that control biodiversity belowground and its role in soil carbon (C) dynamics.
The aim of this study will be to understand how biodiversity affects the capacity of soil microbial communities to adapt to climatic changes and how this mechanisms of adaptation may affect future soil CO2 emissions. Field manipulative experiments (controlling vegetation diversity and climatic variables) conducted in a shrubland site located at the Natural Park of Garraf will be combined with lab soil incubations to test these hypotheses.
Two carachteristics of soil microbial diversity will be analyzed: species richness and relative abundance of key functional groups. Molecular techniques will be used to analyze the species richness (Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis-DGGE) and relative abundance (DGGE and Phospholipid fatty acid analyses-PLFA) of key groups, such as fungi, actinomycetes, and bacteria.
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