Perturbation of soil microbial communities by rising temperatures could have important consequences for biodiversity and future climate, particularly in tropical forests where high biological diversity coincides with a vast store of soil carbon. We carried out a 2-year in situ soil warming experiment in a tropical forest in Panama and found large changes in the soil microbial community and its growth sensitivity, which did not fully explain observed large increases in CO2 emission. Microbial diversity, especially of bacteria, declined markedly with 3 to 8 °C warming, demonstrating a breakdown in the positive temperature-diversity relationship observed elsewhere. The microbial community composition shifted with warming, with many taxa no longer detected and others enriched, including thermophilic taxa. This community shift resulted in community adaptation of growth to warmer temperatures, which we used to predict changes in soil CO2 emissions. However, the in situ CO2 emissions exceeded our model predictions threefold, potentially driven by abiotic acceleration of enzymatic activity. Our results suggest that warming of tropical forests will have rapid, detrimental consequences both for soil microbial biodiversity and future climate.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Soil Science