Differences in soil moisture, nutrients and the microbial community between forests on the upper Pacific and Caribbean slopes at Monteverde, Cordillera de Tilaran: Implications for responses to climate change

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A study was conducted to identify soil ecosystem metrics for use in monitoring soil ecosystem health in tropical montane cloud forest habitats, and to establish a baseline of soil community characteristics. This work was performed in six unique forested habitats on the Caribbean and Pacific slopes of the Monteverde Reserve in Costa Rica. Comparisons were made of the soil moisture, nitrogen fixation activity, microbial biomass, fungal and bacterial abundance and diversity, and the abundance of key functional genes laccase (for lignin degradation by basidiomycete fungi) and nifH (for bacterial N- fixation). Differences were found in these metrics between habitats, which were correlated with soil moisture. The results of this work show that these metrics can be used as part of a program to monitor the soil ecosystems for early indicators of shifts in conditions in response to environmental change within this part of a fragile ecosystem. © International Society for Tropical Ecology.

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Tropical Ecology

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