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    Nonnative, invasive feral pigs (Sus scrofa) modify habitats by disturbing soils and vegetation, which can alter biogeochemical processes. Soil microbial communities drive nutrient cycling and therefore also play important roles in shaping ecosystem structure and function, but the responses of soil microbes to nonnative ungulate removal remains poorly studied. We examined changes in the soil bacterial community over a ~25 year chronosequence of feral pig removal in tropical montane wet forests on the Island of Hawai’i. We extracted bacterial eDNA from soil samples collected inside and outside of ungulate exclosures along this chronosequence and sequenced the eDNA using the Illumina platform. We found that ungulate removal increased diversity of soil bacteria, with diversity scores positively correlated with time since removal. While functional and phylogenetic diversity were not significantly different between pig present and pig removed soils, soil bulk density, which decreases following the removal of feral pigs, was a useful predictor of dissimilarity among sites and correlated to changes in functional diversity. Additionally, increases in soil porosity, potassium, and calcium were correlated to increases in functional diversity. Finally, sites with greater mean annual temperatures were shown to have higher scores of both functional and phylogenetic diversity. As such, we conclude that feral pigs influence overall bacterial community diversity directly while influencing functional diversity indirectly through alterations to soil structure and nutrients. Comparatively, phylogenetic differences between communities are better explained by mean annual temperature as a climatic predictor of community dissimilarity.

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    Wehr, Nathaniel H.; Kinney, Kealohanuiopuna M.; Nguyen, Nhu H.; Giardina, Christian P.; Litton, Creighton M. 2019. Changes in soil bacterial community diversity following the removal of invasive feral pigs from a Hawaiian tropical montane wet forest. Scientific Reports. 9(1): S3.


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    Ungulates, Tropical

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