A field transplantation experiment was used in this study to investigate the effects of substrate and climatic conditions on basal soil respiration, microbial biomass C and diversity of soil microbiota. This was done by comparing local and transplanted soils along a latitudinal gradient. Sterilized soil sampled in Sokolov (Czech Republic) was transplanted to sites across Europe and the USA. The authors hypothesized that (1) if soil microbes in transplanted soil will be more similar to those in soil at donor site, it means local soil factors are decisive for microbial community development. But (2) if the transplanted soil will be more similar to that at receptor site, it means large-scale factors are decisive.
The authors found that microbial activity is driven mainly by changes of the soil substrate along latitudinal and climatic gradients while microbial biomass is driven more by global climatic factors itself. The diversity of soil microbial communities is mostly affected by latitudinal and climatic factors while community structure is mostly shaped by substrate quality.