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Science. 2005 Jun 24;308(5730):1884.

Larger islands house more bacterial taxa.

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  • 1Molecular Microbial Ecology Section, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3SR, UK.


The power law that describes the relationship between species richness and area size is one of the few generalizations in ecology, but recent studies show that this relationship differs for microbes. We demonstrate that the natural bacterial communities inhabiting small aquatic islands (treeholes) do indeed follow the species-area law. The result requires a re-evaluation of the current understanding of how natural microbial communities operate and implies that analogous processes structure both microbial communities and communities of larger organisms.

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