Microbial Spatial Ecology : Old Dogmas Versus Current Perspectives

2223 WordsNov 13, 20149 Pages
Microbial spatial ecology: old dogmas versus current perspectives Introduction Spatial patterns and their associations with ecological phenomena is becoming an essential field within ecology, which is extending into the microbial ecosphere. Microbes are often overlooked, which is surprising as it is thought that they encompass a large proportion of the Earth’s biodiversity (Torsvik, et al; 2002) and exist in effectively every ecosystem. Microbes include the prokaryotes, viruses, micro-Eukarya, fungi and algae and although microscopic, they can perform vital roles in the nutrient cycle (Beare et al; 1992). Similarly they can mediate the oceanic carbon cycle (Karl et al; 2012). Moreover a recent study located microbes in the biosphere that can affect the water cycle and their own precipitation through atmospheric transportation (Christner et al; 2008). As microbes can perform these crucial roles, you might conclude that research into their spatial patterns has been well documented, sadly this is not the case. In the 1930s the Dutch botanist Baas-Becking described microbial diversity as ‘everything is everywhere, the environment selects’. Up until recent times this statement has been taken to be fundamentally correct and is supported by authors such as Finlay (2002). However criticisms exist over Finlay’s conclusion, as he reasons that the global diversity of protozoa has been established, which is disputed by Foissner (2006). That accuses Finlay of not seeing the whole

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