Title

Microbial Functional Diversity and Growth Strategies in Response to Disturbance

Publication Date

4-2002

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis

Degree Title

Master of Science in Biology

Department

Biology

Major Advisor

Robert C. Rychert

Abstract

Ecology is "the study of the natural environment and the relations of organisms to each other and to their surroundings" (Ricklefs 1990). Traditionally, ecologists have focused on macro-communities, such as plants and vertebrates, with little consideration given to the microorganisms within these communities (Kennedy and Gewin 1997). The productivity of terrestrial ecosystems is interdependent with soil microbial communities and their activities; however, our knowledge and understanding of the structure and function of micro-communities is limited (DeLeij et al. 1993; Kennedy and Gewin 1997; Zak et al. 1994). By better understanding changes in microbial growth strategies and microbial activities following a disturbance (fire, water table changes, grazing, agriculture), it may be possible to predict the immediate and lasting effects on macro-ecosystem functioning (Perry 1989).

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