Implications of microbial community assembly for ecosystem restoration: patterns, process, and potential

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Emily Graham, Joseph E Knelman


While it is now widely accepted that microorganisms provide essential functions in restoration ecology, the nature of relationships between microbial community assembly and ecosystem recovery remain unclear. There has been a longstanding challenge to decipher whether microorganisms facilitate or simply follow ecosystem recovery, and evidence for each is mixed at best. We propose that understanding microbial community assembly processes during ecosystem restoration is critical to optimizing management strategies. We examine how the connection between environment, community structure, and function is fundamentally underpinned by the processes governing community assembly of these microbial communities. We review important factors to consider in evaluating microbial community structure in the context of ecosystem recovery as revealed in studies of microbial succession: 1) variation in community assembly processes, 2) measurable microbial community attributes, and 3) linkages to ecosystem function. We seek to empower restoration ecology with microbial assembly and successional understandings that can generate actionable insights and vital contexts for ecosystem restoration efforts.



Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Ecology Life Sciences, Life Sciences


Microbiome, disturbance ecology, succession, restoration ecology, microbial community assembly, community ecology


Published: 2022-11-23 09:20

Last Updated: 2022-11-23 16:18


CC-By Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International