Typhoons initiate predictable change in aquatic bacterial communities

Jones, Stuart E., Chih-Yu Chiu, Timothy K. Kratz, Jiunn-Tzong Wu, Ashley Shade, Katherine D. McMahon

Limnol. Oceanogr., 53(4), 2008, 1319-1326 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2008.53.4.1319

ABSTRACT: We explored patterns of change in bacterioplankton and phytoplankton community composition in response to typhoons in a subtropical, subalpine freshwater humic lake in Taiwan. Thermal profiles with depth, nearsurface dissolved oxygen, and meteorological conditions were measured at high temporal resolution using an instrumented buoy. We collected samples across a time series spanning two typhoon seasons and assessed bacterial community composition at each time point using a fingerprinting technique targeting the internal transcribed spacer region of the ribosomal RNA operon. Wind and rain associated with the typhoons mixed the otherwise stably stratified water column. After each of six typhoon-induced mixing events, the bacterial community composition was reset to similar conditions, revealing a surprisingly deterministic pattern of recovery that was reminiscent of secondary succession following large infrequent disturbances in terrestrial ecosystems. Distinct bacterial assemblages were associated with epilimnion and hypolimnion samples collected more than 80 d after a mixing event. These assemblages were also distinct from the communities observed in the generally unstratified water column within 7 d after a typhoon. Our results were surprising since bacterial communities are not expected to respond in such predictable ways because of their immense complexity and diversity. In contrast, phytoplankton communities did not recover in a predictable way after typhoons.

Article Links

Please Note