Trait-based modeling revealed higher microbial diversity leads to greater ecological resilience in response to an ecosystem disturbance

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Jiaze Wang, Victoria J. Coles, Michael R. Stukel, Olivia U. Mason


To quantitatively understand the ecological resilience of an ecosystem with specialized habitats, we focused on deep-sea microbial communities and simulated the response of diverse microbes in specialized habitats to a pulse ecosystem disturbance - the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Two microbial communities with equivalent metabolic libraries were acclimated to the presence (“seep-adapted community”) or absence (“naïve community”) of natural seeps, then their metabolic and ecological responses following the disturbance were compared on both individual and community scales. Higher variability in functional metabolisms in the naïve community without selection pressure created less predictable response to the disturbance. Although spatially and temporally varying degradation rates resulted from the individual complexity of simulated degraders and their interactions with overall community, seep-adapted communities were more efficient in utilizing substrate when spatially averaged. Seep-adapted communities also had more heterogeneous diversity patterns across space and time and presented lower resistance and higher resilience in returning to baseline conditions following the disturbance. The model suggests that communities exposed to transient pulse disturbance or exchanging species with specialized habitats under selection for the disturbance may have greater sustainability in response to disturbance.



Biogeochemistry, Earth Sciences, Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Ecology Life Sciences, Microbiology, Oceanography, Oil, Gas, and Energy, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Sustainability, Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


microbial community, ocean ecosystem, pulse disturbance, resilience, Resistance, trait-based genomics


Published: 2022-10-14 23:00

Last Updated: 2022-10-15 06:00


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:
Authors declare that they have no competing interests

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