Influence of Spatial Scale on Structure of Soil Bacterial Communities across an Arctic Landscape

Lucie A Malard*, Muhammad Zohaib Anwar, Carsten S Jacobsen, David Pearce*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Bacterial community composition is largely influenced by environmental factors, and this applies to the Arctic region. However, little is known about the role of spatial factors in structuring such communities. In this study, we evaluated the influence of spatial scale on bacterial community structure across an Arctic landscape. Our results showed that spatial factors accounted for approximately 10% of the variation at the landscape scale, equivalent to observations across the whole Arctic region, suggesting that while the role and magnitude of other processes involved in community structure may vary, the role of dispersal may be stable globally in the region. We assessed dispersal limitation by identifying the spatial autocorrelation distance, standing at approximately 60 m, which would be required in order to obtain fully independent samples and may inform future sampling strategies in the region. Finally, indicator taxa with strong statistical correlations with environment variables were identified. However, we showed that these strong taxa-environment associations may not always be reflected in the geographical distribution of these taxa. The significance of this study is threefold. It investigated the influence of spatial scale on the soil bacterial community composition across a typical Arctic landscape and demonstrated that conclusions reached when examining the influence of specific environmental variables on bacterial community composition are dependent upon the spatial scales over which they are investigated. This study identified a dispersal limitation (spatial autocorrelation) distance of approximately 60 m, required to obtain samples with fully independent bacterial communities, and therefore, should serve to inform future sampling strategies in the region and potentially elsewhere. The work also showed that strong taxa-environment statistical associations may not be reflected in the observed landscape distribution of the indicator taxa. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2020 Malard et al.]
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02220-20
Number of pages16
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number5
Early online date12 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


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