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Drought impacts on the microbiome in grasslands across the Great Plains: a story of legacy effects, resistance, and resilience




Vilonen, Leena L., author
Smith, Melinda D., advisor
Trivedi, Pankaj, advisor
Cusack, Daniela, committee member
von Fischer, Joe, committee member
Zeglin, Lydia, committee member

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Drought is increasing in frequency and severity across the US Great Plains as a direct result of climate change and if nothing is done to remedy climate change, drought will only continue to get worse over the next century. Thus, understanding how drought impacts natural and rangeland systems in the US will be vital to protecting these systems from negative impacts due to drought. Further, there has been a great deal of research on the aboveground response to drought, but little research on how the belowground soil community responds to drought. Lastly, some research exists on how drought impacts systems during the drought, but even less research exists on what happens after the drought. To further complicate this, the terms used to describe the period after drought are variable and inconsistent, leading to difficulty in synthesizing this literature. This dissertation aimed to re-define and make the terms used to describe the post-drought period consistent, understand how belowground communities respond after the drought has ended at one field site, and understand how microbial communities in the greenhouse respond to drought both during and after across several sites in the US Great Plains. The first chapter of this dissertation was a literature review that examined how researchers define the terms used after a drought ends and attempted to synthesize definitions for future use. The second chapter of this dissertation examined whether there were impacts leftover after a four-year drought on nutrient cycling in a mesic grassland. The third chapter examined whether there were leftover impacts from the same drought as chapter two on the microbial community. Lastly, the fourth chapter examined how microbial communities respond during and after the drought across four Great Plains sites when the microbial community was isolated from the plant community.


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nutrient cycling


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