, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 769–782 | Cite as

Patterns of Soil Bacteria and Canopy Community Structure Related to Tropical Peatland Development

  • Tiffany G. TroxlerEmail author
  • Makoto Ikenaga
  • Leonard Scinto
  • Joseph N. Boyer
  • Richard Condit
  • Rolando Perez
  • George D. Gann
  • Daniel L. Childers


Natural environmental gradients provide important information about the ecological constraints on plant and microbial community structure. In a tropical peatland of Panama, we investigated community structure (forest canopy and soil bacteria) and microbial community function (soil enzyme activities and respiration) along an ecosystem development gradient that coincided with a natural P gradient. Highly structured plant and bacterial communities that correlated with gradients in phosphorus status and soil organic matter content characterized the peatland. A secondary gradient in soil porewater NH4 described significant variance in soil microbial respiration and β-1-4-glucosidase activity. Covariation of canopy and soil bacteria taxa contributed to a better understanding of ecological classifications for biotic communities with applicability for tropical peatland ecosystems of Central America. Moreover, plants and soils, linked primarily through increasing P deficiency, influenced strong patterning of plant and bacterial community structure related to the development of this tropical peatland ecosystem.


Plant Ombrotrophy PCR-DGGE Phosphorus Wetland Bacteria Acidobacteria Respiration Enzyme activity Forest Bog 



The authors would like to acknowledge B. Giraldo, G. Jacome, P. Gondola, E. Brown, M. Barry, D. Johnson and I. Mendoza for field, lab and logistical assistance. Drs. S. Davis, D. Liptzin and J. Edmonds provided helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. We are grateful to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and R. Collins for assistance with travel funding through a fellowship to T. Troxler. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Grants No. DBI-0620409 and No. DEB-9910514. This is contribution #548 of the Southeast Environmental Research Center at Florida International University.

Supplementary material

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Electronic Supplementary Materials (DOC 36 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tiffany G. Troxler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Makoto Ikenaga
    • 2
  • Leonard Scinto
    • 1
  • Joseph N. Boyer
    • 1
  • Richard Condit
    • 3
  • Rolando Perez
    • 3
  • George D. Gann
    • 4
  • Daniel L. Childers
    • 5
  1. 1.Southeast Environmental Research CenterFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, College of Life SciencesRitsumeikan UniversityKusatsuJapan
  3. 3.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstitutePanamáRepública de Panamá
  4. 4.Institute for Regional ConservationMiamiUSA
  5. 5.Global Institute of Sustainability and School for SustainabilityArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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