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Front Microbiol. 2014 Mar 4;5:82. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2014.00082. eCollection 2014.

Metacommunity dynamics of bacteria in an arctic lake: the impact of species sorting and mass effects on bacterial production and biogeography.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, Oregon State University Corvallis, OR, USA.


To understand mechanisms linking ecosystem processes and microbial diversity in freshwater ecosystems, bacterial productivity and the metacommunity dynamics of species sorting and mass effects were investigated in an 18 ha headwater lake in northern Alaska. On most sampling dates, the phylogenetic composition of bacterial communities in inflowing streams (inlets) was strikingly different than that in the lake and the outflowing stream (outlet) (16S DGGE fingerprinting), demonstrating the shift in composition that occurs as these communities transit the lake. Outlet and downstream communities were also more productive than inlet and upstream communities ((14)C-leucine incorporation). Inlet bacteria transplanted to the outlet stream in dialysis bags were equally or less productive than control bacteria, suggesting that the inlet bacteria are capable of growing under lake conditions, but do not remain abundant because of species sorting in the lake. Outlet bacteria (representative of epilimnetic bacteria) transplanted to the inlet stream were less productive than control bacteria, suggesting that lake bacteria are not as well adapted to growing under inlet conditions. Based on water density, inlet stream water and bacteria generally entered the lake at the base of the epilimnion. However, during low to medium flow in the inlet stream the residence time of the epilimnion was too long relative to bacterial doubling times for these allochthonous bacteria to have a mass effect on the composition of outlet bacteria. The highest community similarity between inlet and outlet bacteria was detected after a large rain event in 2003, with over 61% similarity (average non-storm similarities were 39 ± 8%). While mass effects may be important during large storm events, species sorting appears to be the predominant mechanism structuring bacterial communities within the lake, leading to the assembly of a lake community that has lost some ability to function in stream habitats.


aquatic microbiology; arctic; bacterial production; mass effects; metacommunity theory; species sorting; transplant experiments

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