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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 71 No. 3, p. 730-734
    Received: Aug 27, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): allisonv@landcareresearch.co.nz
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Assessing Soil Microbial Community Composition Across Landscapes: Do Surface Soils Reveal Patterns?

  1. Victoria J. Allison *ab,
  2. Zhanna Yermakovb,
  3. R. Michael Millerb,
  4. Julie D. Jastrowb and
  5. Roser Matamalab
  1. a Landcare Research Private Bag 92170 Auckland 1142 New Zealand
    b Biosciences Division Argonne National Lab. Argonne, IL 60439-4843


Soil microbial community composition changes with both position in the landscape and depth in the soil column. Depth patterns may be stronger than landscape patterns, and thus landscape-level patterns determined from surface soils may not be representative of the soil column as a whole. We asked whether patterns determined from surface soils and the integrated soil column reveal the same landscape-level patterns, predicting that because of the preponderance of biomass in surface soil, biomass-weighted patterns in an integrated soil column will be the same as in the surface soil. We found that community composition in surface soils and in an integrated soil column revealed the same pattern of change with time, and were very highly positively correlated. We suggest that in systems where resource inputs, and thus microbial biomass, declines strongly with depth, changes in composition of microbial communities across the landscape can be adequately determined from surface soils.

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