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Finlay, 2004; Meyer, 1994). Furthermore, rapid evolutionary adaptation through horizontal gene transfer could allow sensitive microorganisms to adapt to new environmental conditions and quickly return the community to its original composition. The extremely high abundance and diversity of microorganisms are used as an argument for functional redundancy, because it is difficult to imagine that biogeochemical cycling is limited by microbial abundance (Meyer, 1994) or genetic diversity (Finlay et al., 1997).

Fig. 8.1 illustrates the potential impacts of a disturbance on microbial composition and/or ecosystem processes. Consider a disturbance applied to an ecosystem and the microbial communities within it. Microbial composition might be resistant to the disturbance, and not change. Alternatively, if the community is sensitive and does change, it could be resilient and quickly recover to its initial composition. Finally, a community whose

FIGURE 8.1 A schematic of how disturbance can change microbial composition and thereby affect ecosystem processes versus when disturbance would not have this effect (when the microbial community is resistant, resilient, or functionally redundant).

FIGURE 8.1 A schematic of how disturbance can change microbial composition and thereby affect ecosystem processes versus when disturbance would not have this effect (when the microbial community is resistant, resilient, or functionally redundant).



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