Advances in Microbial Ecology by Ronald M. Atlas (auth.), K. C. Marshall (eds.)

By Ronald M. Atlas (auth.), K. C. Marshall (eds.)

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Because of the difficulty of identifying bacterial species directly on the basis of their morphological or colonial attributes, the measurement of heterotrophic bacterial diversity is still novel when compared to species-diversity measurements for plants, animals, and algae. Despite this difficulty, several recent studies have used diversity indices to describe bacterial communities. Swift (1976) has considered the relationship of the state of diversity of the microbial community to decompositional processes.

Although the specific cause-and-effect relationships are far from obvious, diversity is clearly related to stability. Communities, including microbial communities, evolve through a series of successional stages until a stable community structure is achieved at a certain level of diversity. Microorganisms, like all biological systems, respond to their biological and abiotic environment. The interactions of populations living together in a habitat establish a community structure in which the functional niches of the ecosystem are filled by member populations of the community.

The altered population that results following rain has reduced diversity. Localized environmental factors in a soil have minimal influence on the actinomycete population, but plants do modify the populations of the rhizosphere areas in association with their roots, the influence varying from species to species of plant. The sum total of the environmental factors that are involved in a change in geographic location has the greatest influence in inducing changes in the soil streptomycete populations.

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