Data on soil microbial community distribution at large scales are limited despite the important information that could be drawn with regard to their function and the influence of environmental factors on nutrient cycling and ecosystem services. This study investigates the distribution of Archaea, Bacteria and Fungi as well as the dominant bacterial phyla (Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes), and classes of Proteobacteria (Alpha- and Betaproteobacteria) across the Koiliaris watershed by qPCR and associate them with environmental variables. Predictive maps of microorganisms distribution at watershed scale were generated by co-kriging, using the most significant predictors. Our findings showed that 31-79% of the spatial variation in microbial taxa abundance could be explained by the parameters measured, with total organic carbon and pH being identified as the most important. Moreover, strong correlations were set between microbial groups and their inclusion on variance explanation improved the prediction power of the models. The spatial autocorrelation of microbial groups ranged from 309 to 2.226 m, and geographic distance, by itself, could explain a high proportion of their variation. Our findings shed light on the factors shaping microbial communities at a high taxonomic level and provide evidence for ecological coherence and syntrophic interactions at the watershed scale.
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