Climate change and anthropogenic alterations to habitats have negative consequences on environmental microbiomes; thus, it is important to understand the stability and assemblies of these communities to untangle their vulnerability to environmental change. During my research assistant position with Dr. Ana Sofia Reboleira, I had the opportunity to explore drivers of cave bacterial communities in comparison to surface communities in the subarctics and along an elevational gradient in Tenerife.
This work demonstrated that:
1. Nutrient poor (oligotrophic) subarctic caves (Northern Norway) harbour more diverse bacterial communities than in surface and the bacterial taxa in caves are more interdependent on each other than in the surface. This imply that alterations in freeze-thaw processes in subarctic regions due to climate change would disrupt complex microbial associations influencing the stability of stable environments within caves.
2. Caves and surface ecosystem undergo similar levels of decomposition along the elevational gradient of Tenerife. However, in the surface short term carbon cycling is tightly associated with abiotic parameters and bacterial communities, while in caves these parameters are tightly linked to long term carbon storage. This propose that changes in environmental conditions and nutrient availability would have different levels of impacts on carbon cycle in cave and surface ecosystems.