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Study helps clarify role of soil microbes in global warming
Date:10/28/2008

the first to demonstrate that microbes, like many plants and animals, can adapt relatively quickly to changes in climate. "This research presents a new challenge to scientists trying to predict effects of climate change on forest ecosystems because it shows that these soil microbial communities are very dynamic," Wallenstein said. "We cannot simply extrapolate from the short-term responses of soil microbes to climate change, since they may adapt over the longer-term."

Bradford notes that there is still much to be learned about how soil microbes respond to global warming. His team is currently working to understand whether the reduced microbial respiration in heated soils is caused by the adaptation of individual microbes, by shifts in species composition or a combination of the two factors. He warns against minimizing the role of soil microbes in global warming, even though his findings suggest that current models overstate their contribution.

"Although our results suggest that the impact of soil microbes on global warming will be less than is currently predicted," Bradford said, "even a small change in atmospheric carbon is going to alter the way our world works and how our ecosystems function."


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Contact: Sam Fahmy
sfahmy@uga.edu
706-542-5361
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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