Biology ETDs


Ara Winter

Publication Date



Patterns of community structure and richness provide context for studies from microbial ecology, global macroecology, languages, to Bayesian statistics. Diversity patterns for animals on land and their predictor variables are well studied. However, diversity patterns for bacterial communities and marine macroorganisms are not well studied or understood. Here I examine diversity patterns in caves, on the external surface of Chiroptera (bats), and in marine ecosystems. At the local to regional scale we investigate factors that drive bacterial community patterns in richness and composition in lava cave microbial mats and microbes on bats. Lastly, out of the cave and into the surface world, a global picture emerges of factors that drive community structure and richness from bacteria to apex predators in marine environments. I hypothesize that for cave microbial mats found in lava caves, local factors (i.e. sample site temperature and relative humidity) are important factors for determining community structure and richness. For bacteria on bats, a mix of local factors (bat species, bat body mass, location of capture) and regional factors (net primary productivity (NPP), annual mean rainfall) explain richness and structure of the microbial communities. In addition, the predictor variables for richness and community structure will vary with spatial scale (local to regional to landscape). In the global marine data set, richness and community structure will be dependent on net primary productivity, temperature, thermal lifestyle, and foraging behavior. At small scales, temperature and NPP will be variable in their predicting power, while at large scales they will be positivity correlated with species richness. Local factors likely drive the larger scale patterns in community structure and richness.




macroecology, microbial ecology, bioinformatics, bacteria

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Advisor

Takacs-Vesbach, Christina

First Committee Member (Chair)

Northup, Diana

Second Committee Member

Sinsabaugh, Robert

Third Committee Member

Lavoie, Kathleen