Many studies indicate that variation of marine bacterial beta diversity in the horizontal dimension is mainly attributable to environmental and spatial effects. However, whether and how these two effects drive bacterial beta diversity in the vertical dimension remains unclear, especially when considering seasonal variation in the strength of water stratification. Here, we used 78 paired bacterioplankton community samples from surface and deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM) layers along a transect in the Kuroshio region east of Taiwan across multiple seasons. Variance partitioning was used to evaluate the mechanisms driving the vertical beta diversity between surface-DCM bacterioplankton communities during weak stratification periods (i.e., spring and fall) versus strong stratification periods (i.e., summer). During strong periods of stratification, vertical beta diversity was shaped by both environmental and spatial effects; notably, the strength of stratification played an important role in enhancing environmental dissimilarity and creating a barrier to dispersal. In contrast, during periods of weak stratification, environmental effects dominate, with a non-significant spatial effect due to mixing. Variation of vertical beta diversity for bacterioplankton communities in the Kuroshio region east of Taiwan was structured by different mechanisms across seasons, and was further dependent on stratification strength of the water column.
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