The Fynbos Mediterranean ecosystem
Here, the goal was to focus on how landscape heterogeneity influences soil microbial communities composition and highlight their assembly processes
Mediterranean ecosystems are unique with their characteristic climate regimes of mild wet winters, and, hot and dry summers; only occurring in five regions of the world: Cape region of South Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, State of California in the United States of America, central Chile and South to South-western Australia. These regions have conspicuously unusual high levels of plant diversity and endemism that has rendered these regions as ‘biodiversity hotspots’, with the Cape region of South Africa housing the smallest plant kind floristic kingdom. The coexistence of ecologically equivalent plant species in these regions has been of great interest to ecologist, and, identifying what ecological drivers maintain this coexistence has been revealed. Fire and geological stability have been shown to be drivers that maintain these high levels of biodiversity and endemism, paradoxically, factors that are most common thought to be correlated with biodiversity in these ecosystems; regional topography and climate heterogeneity are poor predications of diversity.Natural disturbance have been accredited with playing a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity in these Mediterranean ecosystem. Although, these regions share similar environmental characteristics, they have different disturbance regimes.
All the five Mediterranean regions experience drought during the summer months, however, the northern regions (California, Mediterranean Basin and Chile)
experience far more severe drought and prolonged drought vis-à-vis the southern regions (Cape region of South African and South to South-western Australia) . The southern regions lie on stable and ancient landscapes, which have highly leached soils that are relatively nutrient poor, and, they experience far more frequent fire cycle (10-15 years) . The combination of the periodic droughts, geologically stable and nutrient poor soils and fire frequency have kept the extinction rates low. These factors have also promoted a higher community turnover and diversification in the southern region, furthermore, they have evolved species-rich landscapes in topographically homogenous areas. Natural selection has allowed fine-scale discrimination of habitats and niches under stable and predictable frequent
fires, and, this makes the southern regions far more diverse than their northern counterparts.
We are interested in 1) understanding how plant-microbe interactions have co-evolved to tolerate disturbance, and how these traits are acted and selected by current climate conditions, 2) and how plant-microbe interactions can used to predict plant niche shift
Power in Numbers