Changes in assembly processes of soil microbial communities during secondary succession in two subtropical forests


Soil microbes re-establish plant diversity and ecosystem functions after disturbance events. Deterministic and stochastic processes are expected to contribute to microbial community assembly during long-term ecosystem recovery. We characterized soil prokaryotic and fungal communities, to determine their assembly patterns, along two chronosequences with early to later successional subtropical forests. Prokaryotic and fungal community composition was more variable in early successional forests but converged in the later successional forests. The community composition was governed by deterministic processes in the early stages, while the relative influence of stochasticity increased in the later stages. Environmental factors that predicted the shift in deterministic and stochastic balance varied within and across successional stages. In particular, the compositional dissimilarity of plant communities strongly predicted the relative influences of the two processes during succession. These findings suggest that the relative influences of deterministic and stochastic processes in shaping microbial community assembly shift during secondary succession. Consequently, plant communities are important predictors of assembly processes in soil microbial communities during long-term ecosystem recovery. © 2021 Elsevier Ltd

Soil Biology and Biochemistry, (154),