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Volume 20 Issue 6 (June 2010)

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Article, pp. 4-10 | Full Text | PDF (3.3MB)

Impacts of environmental change and human activity on microbial ecosystems on the Tibetan Plateau, NW China

Hailiang Dong1*, Hongchen Jiang2, Bingsong Yu2, and Xingqi Liu3

1 Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental Geology of Ministry of Education, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, 430074, China; Geomicrobiology Laboratory, State Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral Resources, China University of Geosciences, Beijing, 100083, China; and Dept. of Geology, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA
2 Geomicrobiology Laboratory, State Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral Resources, China University of Geosciences, Beijing, 100083, China
3 State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Nanjing, 210008, China; and Chuanlun Zhang, Dept. of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA

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Abstract

Microorganisms play important roles in maintaining ecosystem functions. It is poorly known, however, how microbial ecosystems respond to environmental changes and human activities. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the microbial record in lake sediments and ice cores contains a wealth of paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic information. Saline lakes on the Tibetan Plateau exhibit multiple environmental gradients and have accumulated thick sequences of sediments through time. Microbial abundance and species diversity vary considerably along environmental gradients across the plateau. Studies of lake sediments reveal that wet and warm climates are correlated with high bacterial abundance and diversity, whereas cold and dry climates result in low abundance and diversity. Recent human activities have enhanced sulfate reduction in lake sediments. Ice cores from the plateau reveal that bacterial abundance and diversity are positively correlated with dust particle concentration and temperature.

Manuscript received 10 Aug. 2009; accepted 12 Oct. 2009

DOI: 10.1130/GSATG75A.1

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