Although soil microbes are responsible for important ecosystem functions, and soils are under increasing environmental pressure, little is known about their resistance and resilience to multiple stressors. Here, we test resistance and recovery of soil methane-oxidizing communities to two different, repeated, perturbations: soil drying, ammonium addition and their combination. In replicated soil microcosms we measured methane oxidation before and after perturbations, while monitoring microbial abundance and community composition using quantitative PCR assays for the bacterial 16S rRNA and pmoA gene, and sequencing of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene. Although microbial community composition changed after soil drying, methane oxidation rates recovered, even after four desiccation events. Moreover, microcosms subjected to soil drying recovered significantly better from ammonium addition compared to microcosms not subjected to soil drying. Our results show the flexibility of microbial communities, even if abundances of dominant populations drop, ecosystem functions can recover. In addition, a history of stress may induce changes in community composition and functioning, which may in turn affect its future tolerance to different stressors.
Data belonging to the paper: Resistance and Recovery of Methane-Oxidizing Communities depends on Stress Regime and History - a Microcosm Study