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Land‐use type temporarily affects active pond community structure but not gene expression patterns

Bizic, Mina; Ionescu, Danny; Karnatak, Rajat; Musseau, Camille L.; Onandia, Gabriela; Berger, Stella A.; Nejstgaard, Jens C.; Lischeid, Gunnar; Gessner, Mark O.; Wollrab, Sabine; Grossart, Hans‐Peter

FG Angewandte Gewässerökologie

Changes in land use and agricultural intensification threaten biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of small water bodies. We studied 67 kettle holes (KH) in an agricultural landscape in northeastern Germany using landscape‐scale metatranscriptomics to understand the responses of active bacterial, archaeal and eukaryotic communities to land‐use type. These KH are proxies of the millions of small standing water bodies of glacial origin spread across the northern hemisphere. Like other landscapes in Europe, the study area has been used for intensive agriculture since the 1950s. In contrast to a parallel environmental DNA study that suggests the homogenization of biodiversity across KH, conceivably resulting from long‐lasting intensive agriculture, land‐use type affected the structure of the active KH communities during spring crop fertilization, but not a month later. This effect was more pronounced for eukaryotes than for bacteria. In contrast, gene expression patterns did not differ between months or across land‐use types, suggesting a high degree of functional redundancy across the KH communities. Variability in gene expression was best explained by active bacterial and eukaryotic community structures, suggesting that these changes in functioning are primarily driven by interactions between organisms. Our results indicate that influences of the surrounding landscape result in temporary changes in the activity of different community members. Thus, even in KH where biodiversity has been homogenized, communities continue to respond to land management. This potential needs to be considered when developing sustainable management options for restoration purposes and for successful mitigation of further biodiversity loss in agricultural landscapes.