Natural environmental gradients provide important information about the ecological constraints on plant and microbial community structure. In a tropical peatland of Panama, we investigated community structure (forest canopy and soil bacteria) and microbial community function (soil enzyme activities and respiration) along an ecosystem development gradient that coincided with a natural P gradient. Highly structured plant and bacterial communities that correlated with gradients in phosphorus status and soil organic matter content characterized the peatland. A secondary gradient in soil porewater NH4 described significant variance in soil microbial respiration and β-1-4-glucosidase activity. Covariation of canopy and soil bacteria taxa contributed to a better understanding of ecological classifications for biotic communities with applicability for tropical peatland ecosystems of Central America. Moreover, plants and soils, linked primarily through increasing P deficiency, influenced strong patterning of plant and bacterial community structure related to the development of this tropical peatland ecosystem.
- Enzyme activity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry
- General Environmental Science