Early spring snowmelt and summer droughts strongly impair the resilience of bacterial community and N cycling functions in a subalpine grassland ecosystem - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Oikos Year : 2023

Early spring snowmelt and summer droughts strongly impair the resilience of bacterial community and N cycling functions in a subalpine grassland ecosystem

Abstract

Subalpine grasslands support biodiversity, agriculture, and tourism but their resilience to extreme climatic events is challenged accelerating their vulnerability to tipping points. Microbial communities, central in ecosystem functioning, are usually considered more resistant and highly resilient to extreme events albeit their functional redundancy and strong selection by local harsh climatic conditions. This study explored the soil microbial responses upon recurrent spring-summer droughts associated with early snowmelt in subalpine grasslands mesocosms set-up at the Lautaret Pass (French Alps). Potential soil microbial respiration, nitrification and denitrification activities were monitored over a period of two growing seasons along with quantification of related gene abundances. Impacts of simulated spring-summer drought and early snowmelt were quantified to assess their resistance and recovery. Results revealed that droughts had a low and short-term adverse impact on bacterial total respiration supporting their hypothesized high resilience, i.e. resistance and ability to recover. Nitrification and abundances of the corresponding functional guilds showed relatively strong resistance to summer droughts but declined in response to early snowmelt. This resistance of nitrification was paralleled by the recovery of denitrification and abundances of denitrifying communities from all climatic extremes, except from the summer droughts where nitrifiers were collapsed. Denitrification and respective functional groups faced high impact of applied stresses with strong reduction in abundance and activity. Although, consequently lower denitrifiers' competition for nitrate may be positive for plant biomass production, warnings exist when considering the potential nitrate leaching as well as risks of greenhouses gases emission such as N2O from these ecosystems.
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hal-04152883 , version 1 (05-07-2023)

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Farhan Hafeez, Jean‐christophe Clément, Lionel Bernard, Franck Poly, Thomas Pommier. Early spring snowmelt and summer droughts strongly impair the resilience of bacterial community and N cycling functions in a subalpine grassland ecosystem. Oikos, 2023, 2023 (7), ⟨10.1111/oik.09836⟩. ⟨hal-04152883⟩
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