J. Booth, M. Fusi, R. Marasco, T. Mbobo, D. Daffonchio
Scientific Reports, 9, Article number: 3749, (2019)
Ecosystem functions are regulated by compositional and functional traits of bacterial communities, shaped by stochastic and deterministic processes. Biogeographical studies have revealed microbial community taxonomy in a given ecosystem to change alongside varying environmental characteristics. Considering that stable functional traits are essential for community stability, we hypothesize that contrasting environmental conditions affect microbial taxonomy rather than function in a model system, testing this in three geographically distinct mangrove forests subjected to intense animal bioturbation (a shared deterministic force). Using a metabarcoding approach combined with sediment microprofiling and biochemistry, we examined vertical and radial sediment profiles of burrows belonging to the pantropical fiddler crab (subfamily Gelasiminae) in three contrasting mangrove environments across a broad latitudinal range (total samples = 432). Each mangrove was environmentally distinct, reflected in taxonomically different bacterial communities, but communities consistently displayed the same spatial stratification (a halo effect) around the burrow which invariably determined the retention of similar inferred functional community traits independent of the local environment.