In natural ecosystems, like deciduous and coniferous forests, soil CO2 flux or soil respiration is highly variable and influenced by multiple factors including temperature, precipitation, dissolved soil organic carbon (DOC), dissolved organic matter (DOM), and bacterial and fungal biomass and diversity. However, as the human population continues to grow rapidly, so too do urbanized landscapes with unknown consequences to soil respiration. To determine the extent urbanization influences seasonal shifts in microorganisms and environmental drivers alter soil respiration, we evaluated bacterial and fungal communities, soil physiochemical characteristics, and respiration in forested and urbanizing ecosystems in three watersheds across northern Utah, USA. Based on the next-generation sequencing of the 16s DNA and RNA, we found that montane bacteria were predominantly structured by season while urban bacteria were influenced by degree of urbanization. There was no apparent effect of season on montane fungi, but urban fungal communities followed patterns similar to urban bacterial communities. Bacterial diversity was sensitive to seasonality, especially in montane ecosystems, declining 21-34% from spring to summer and staying relatively low into fall, and fungal diversity was generally depressed in spring. Urban bacterial communities were differentiated by substantially more bacterial taxa with 62 unique OTUs within families structing phylogenetic differences compared with only 18 taxa differentiating montane communities. Similar to bacteria and fungi, DOC and ammonium concentrations fluctuated predominantly by season while these same parameters where highly variable among urban soils among the three watersheds. Structural components of DOM via parallel factor analysis (PARAFAC) of fluorescence excitation-emission matrices show varying patterns between montane and urban systems with humic substance resistance to biodegradability found more dominantly in montane systems. Incorporating all soil chemical parameters, daily temperature and moisture, and fungal and bacterial diversity and richness in mixed linear effects models describing daily CO2 over all seasons, we found that a single model best described montane soil respiration, while individual watershed models best described urban respiration. Montane respiration was related to the availability of DOC, different DOM components, and rRNA-based bacterial diversity . Alternatively, urban respiration was influenced by either bacterial diversity and richness in our rapidly urbanizing environment, DOM characteristics and soil O2 in the more agricultural urban soils, or the DOM parameter humification index (HIX) in highly urbanized soils. Our results suggest that urbanization creates distinct bacterial and fungal communities with a single soil biotic or chemical parameter structuring soil respiration, while montane ecosystems select for similar bacterial and fungal communities with respiration sensitive to fluctuations in soil moisture, bacteria and the recalcitrance of carbon (C) resources.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences



Date Submitted


Document Type





soil respiration, soil microbiology, urbanization, DOM, DOC, soil carbon, carbon cycling, biogeochemistry, seasonality



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Life Sciences Commons