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The Ecological Impacts of Multiple Environmental Stressors on Coastal Biofilm Bacteria.

Ferguson, Robert MW and O'Gorman, Eoin J and McElroy, David J and McKew, Boyd A and Coleman, Ross A and Emmerson, Mark C and Dumbrell, Alex J (2021) 'The Ecological Impacts of Multiple Environmental Stressors on Coastal Biofilm Bacteria.' Global Change Biology. ISSN 1354-1013

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Abstract

Ecological communities are increasingly exposed to multiple interacting stressors. For example, warming directly affects the physiology of organisms, eutrophication stimulates the base of the food web, and harvesting larger organisms for human consumption dampens top-down control. These stressors often combine in the natural environment with unpredictable results. Bacterial communities in coastal ecosystems underpin marine food webs and provide many important ecosystem services (e.g. nutrient cycling and carbon fixation). Yet, how microbial communities will respond to a changing climate remains uncertain. Thus, we used marine mesocosms to examine the impacts of warming, nutrient enrichment, and altered top-predator population size structure (common shore crab) on costal microbial biofilm communities in a crossed experimental design. Warming increased bacterial α-diversity (18% increase in species richness and 67% increase in evenness), but this was countered by a decrease in α-diversity with nutrient enrichment (14% and 21% decrease for species richness and evenness respectively). Thus, we show some effects of these stressors could cancel each other out under climate change scenarios. Warming and top-predator population size structure both affected bacterial biofilm community composition, with warming increasing the abundance of bacteria capable of increased mineralization of dissolved and particulate organic matter, such as Flavobacteriia, Sphingobacteriia, and Cytophagia. However, the community shifts observed with warming depended on top-predator population size structure, with Sphingobacteriia increasing with smaller crabs and Cytophagia increasing with larger crabs. These changes could alter the balance between mineralization and sequestration of carbon in coastal ecosystems, leading to a positive feedback loop between warming and CO<sub>2</sub> production. Our results highlight the potential for warming to disrupt microbial communities and biogeochemical cycling in coastal ecosystems, and the importance of studying these effects in combination with other environmental stressors.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: bacteria, Bacteroidetes, biofilms, body size, food webs, metabarcoding, multiple stressors, nutrient enrichment, warming, α‐diversity
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Life Sciences, School of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 04 May 2021 15:52
Last Modified: 04 May 2021 15:52
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/30284

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