Short-term recurrent microbialite distribution patterns: ecological resilience against climatic changes in Andean extreme environments

Microbialites are organo-sedimentary structures produced by the interaction between intrinsic (producer microorganisms) and extrinsic factors (environmental parameters), which progressively model a final morphology. Thus, they are a reliable and high-resolution proxy to for understanding environmental changes and their aftermaths along time.

In High Altitude Andean Lakes (HAAL), microbialites display interesting adaptations to extreme conditions like high salinity, UV radiation, As content, among others. However, the producer microorganisms of these structures are considered unable to resist environmental changes, and strongly depending of the physicochemical conditions. But to what extent this is true?

In the last decades, Turquesa lake (Argentine Puna) has been in a hydric crisis, modifying the physicochemical conditions. However, there is a rapid re-establishment of the microbial communities once the main parameters are stabilized that give rise to three microbialitic levels in the coast and paleocoasts. 

This gives us the opportunity to demonstrate that far from a crisis paradigm, in which extreme environments are hard for microbial colonisation after abrupt changes in environmental conditions (e.g. desiccation), microbialites producer microorganisms show a short-term resilience capacity to climatic changes.

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