BLOG 2: WOW! You won’t believe what we found in THIS dirt!

I have been working on analyzing the data we have obtained from prior years using statistical software such as SPSS and Primer/PERMANOVA+. I have learned how to conduct multivariate analyses, and have been reading about soil health and composition in tropical forests.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to analyze this year’s data yet. We are in the process of working through getting permission to use the facilities at Rutgers for Next-Gen sequencing, and also on fitting it into our budget. This will allow us to determine the composition of the microbial community from the samples we obtained. Once this is set up, I will be able to process and analyze this year’s data and compare it to previous years.

Blog 1: Effects of restoration strategies along a chronosequence on the soil lignin degraders and associated carbon metrics in a Cloud Forest in Costa Rica

My goal is to conduct a preliminary examination of the effects of several forest restoration strategies on the soil microbial community and associated carbon cycle metrics within the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in Costa Rica. I hope to be able to determine if there are differences in the fungal and bacterial lignin degrading communities in the forest soils of the 3-15 year restored sites, and primary and secondary forests in the Reserve; if these differences can be correlated with changes in soil organic carbon and soil biomass carbon within the different sites; and be able to assess whether these restoration strategies are beneficial to the soil ecosystems and are decreasing the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere.

I collected soils from these different sites, which are currently being analyzed for the mean values of the total organic carbon, biomass carbon, and the efficiency of the use of organic carbon as the Microbial Quotient. I extracted total soil community DNA that will be sequenced into individual microbial genera using Next Generation DNA Sequencing. The abundance of each genus from each habitat will be determined and analyzed for critical differences between sites. I will then use the univariate statistics software SPSS, and the multivariate statistical software Primer/PERMANOVA+ to test the hypotheses that the differences in these metrics are reflections of the impacts of the restoration gradients. The overall goal is that by the end of my work, I will be able to show how the carbon measurements and the Microbial Quotients and the microbial genera of lignin degraders changed with the different restoration strategies; determine if these changes reflect benefits from the restoration activities, and at what age post restoration are the benefits observed.