See more from this Session: Symposium--Advanced Techniques for Assessing and Interpreting Microbial Community Function: I
Managing for soil ecosystem services requires an ecological understanding of the organisms involved, such as who the important ecosystem service providers are; what abiotic and biotic factors regulate their abundance, diversity and activity; and when and where ecosystem service providers operate across spatial and temporal scales. For example, the presence of specific microorganisms determines a soil’s genetic potential to function, but the actual manifestation of microbial function is likely regulated by land use, biological interactions, soil physicochemical properties, and other abiotic factors that are spatially and temporally heterogeneous. Unfortunately, knowledge gaps exist in our understanding of microbial communities, thereby limiting our ability to effectively manage them for ecosystem services. In this presentation I will focus on bioremediation, carbon sequestration, and plant growth promotion as examples of beneficial microbial services. I will outline a discover-and-manage approach to promote these services through assessment of the diversity and abundance of relevant microbial populations, and identification of important abiotic and biotic factors associated with their activity in space and time (through geostatistics and development of predictive models, including decision tree analysis). Once manageable predictors of microbial communities and/or activities are identified, strategies can be developed and implemented to promote these specific ecosystem services and others.