TitleShifts in microbial community structure as a
result of a wildfire in the New Jersey Pinelands
NameMikita, Robyn Ann (author), Tate, Robert L (chair), Strom, Peter F (internal member), Young, Lily Y (internal member), Kelly, John J (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Soil microbiology--New Jersey--Pine Barrens,
Wildfires--New Jersey--Pine Barrens
DescriptionAs the threat of wildfires in the United States increases due to global warming, understanding their effects on the soil biological community becomes central to recovery efforts. Therefore, it is important to study microbial community dynamics in forest soils impacted by fires from the view of elucidating how the new state compares with the original state of the microbial community. For this study, wildfires were hypothesized to cause a shift in the microbial community structure with dominant microbes being those best capable of responding to changes in their environment caused by the perturbation. The objectives of this research were to examine the recovery of the forest soil microbial communities after a wildfire and to investigate the state of the communities more than two years post-fire. After a wildfire occurred in the New Jersey Pinelands in 2007, soil samples were collected from the organic and mineral layers of two severely burned sites and an unburned control site over the span of two years following the fire. Microbial community composition was evaluated by principal component analysis and multivariate analysis of variance of molecular fingerprint data for bacterial, archaeal, and fungal-specific amplicons from denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. The bacterial communities in the samples collected from 2 and 5 months following the fire clustered separately from those collected 13 and 17 months post-fire in two-dimensional space, indicating that the soil bacterial community structure changed with time following the fire. Deeper evaluation of the bacterial, archaeal, and fungal community patterns revealed that even though there were common bands between the unburned and the severely burned samples, the community structure of the samples from the unburned site grouped separately from those of the severely burned sites collected 2, 13, and 25 months post-fire. Generally, the microbial community composition in the unburned samples did not change significantly over two years. These data support the hypothesis that the soil microbial community was selected by both the direct and indirect effects associated with the wildfire in the initial two years after the perturbation. Rather than return to the predisturbance state, the soil microbial communities may reflect an alternate state two years following the fire.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Robyn Ann Mikita
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.