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Heterotrophic Microbial Communities in Biological Soil Crusts: Responses to Temperature and Precipitation

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Engineer Research and Development Center HANOVER United States

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Mineral dust affects many of Earths processes e.g., radiative forcing, nutrient distribution, and hydrology and poses a risk to Army maneuverability and situational awareness. Understanding soil processes and how these relate to potential dust emission is of increasing concern as adverse effects of dust become more prevalent. Biological soil crusts BSCs, commonly found at the soil surface in arid and semiarid regions of the world, protect soils from wind and water erosion. While there is a rich understanding of the behaviors of photosynthetic organisms within BSCs, they are only part of the community. Understanding the other component, the nonphotosynthetic microorganisms and their response to environmental stimuli i.e., temperature and moisture, will improve dust forecasting models and current soil-stabilization methods. We conducted a laboratory incubation study to investigate the effects of simulated precipitation events and cooling on the nonphotosynthetic microbial community that made up approximately 40 percent of the bacterial community in our samples. Our results show how temperature and moisture influence the diversity and resilience of the microbial community and its structure.

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Technical Report



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Approved For Public Release;

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