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Bacterial and Heterotrophic Nanoflagellate Densities and C-biomass Estimates Along an Alaskan Tundra Transect with Prediction of Respiratory CO2 Efflux


  • O. R. Anderson

    Corresponding author
    1. Biology, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, New York, USA
    • Correspondence O. R. Anderson, Biology, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA Telephone number: +1 845-365-8452; FAX number: +1 845-365-8150; e-mail:

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Although tundra terrestrial ecology is significantly affected by global warming, we know relatively little about how eukaryotic microbial communities respond and how much microbial respiratory CO2 may be released due to available organic nutrient sources in the permafrost melt. Prior research has shown a strong positive correlation between bacteria and fungi in some Arctic locales; this research focused on the relationships of terrestrial bacteria and heterotrophic nanoflagellates. The densities and estimated C-biomass of bacteria and heterotrophic nanoflagellates (a major occurring group of protozoa) were assessed in 14 samples obtained along a 10 km transect in northwest AK during the summer of 2012. Two samples were taken, one at the top and one near the base of seven hummocks along the transect. Densities (no./g soil) of bacteria varied from 2.7–16 × 109, and nanoflagellates 0.7–7.9 × 107. C-biomass (μg/g soil) of bacteria varied from 358 to 2,114, and nanoflagellates 12–37. Additionally, the rate of respiration was analyzed in the laboratory for each soil sample. A linear relationship between soil respiration and bacterial densities was obtained (20 °C): Rs = 12.32 + 14.07 Bd (p ≪ 0.01); where Rs is soil respiration (nmol/min/g soil) and Bd = bacterial density (no. × 109/g soil).