Weak correlations between soil properties and bacterial diversity at reforested sites in North America
Soil microbial populations are interconnected in complex ways with soil properties and ecological processes. Ecological disturbances, such as timber harvesting, alter the equilibrium between these environmental factors. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how the relationships between soil properties and microbial diversity change in response to these disturbances. Using bioinformatics analyses, the relationships between bacterial alpha diversity and total carbon, total nitrogen, pH, and moisture content were explored. Based on previous literature, we hypothesized that correlations would exist between bacterial alpha diversity and total carbon, total nitrogen, and pH, but not with moisture content. Surprisingly, we observed no correlations between Shannon’s Diversity index and total carbon, total nitrogen, and pH while a weak correlation was found for moisture content. In addition, we discovered that separating the data based on organic matter removal treatment revealed new correlation patterns at the most intense level of organic matter removal for total carbon and total nitrogen. However, we observed that the different intensities of organic matter removal did not alter the overall bacterial community structure and composition. Therefore, this study provides a valuable insight into the potential effects of different organic matter removal intensities on the relationship between soil properties and bacterial alpha diversity.