Desiccation resistance determines distribution of woodlice along forest edge-to-interior gradients

Pallieter De Smedt*, Lander Baeten, Matty P. Berg, Emilie Gallet-Moron, Jörg Brunet, Sara A.O. Cousins, Guillaume Decocq, Martin Diekmann, Brice Giffard, Pieter De Frenne, Martin Hermy, Dries Bonte, Kris Verheyen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    Forest edges show strong abiotic and biotic gradients potentially altering community composition and ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling. While abiotic gradients are well studied, short-scale biotic gradients, like detritivore species composition and their associated trait distribution remains a poorly explored research-field. We sampled woodlice in 160 forest patches across Europe at varying distances from the forest edge and discovered that species desiccation resistance determines distribution along forest edge-to-interior gradients. Forest edges are warmer and dryer compared to interiors and favour drought-tolerant species, while abundance and activity of drought-sensitive species is reduced at the edge. Key ecological factors for litter-dwelling detritivores (i.e. humidity) act as environmental filter, because of species-specific differences in desiccation resistance. Future research should focus on quantifying the consequences of a changing detritivore community and their associated functional traits for nutrient cycling.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-3
    Number of pages3
    JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Biology
    Early online date9 Jan 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2018


    P.D.S. holds a doctoral fellowship of the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO). M.P.B was financed by the Uyttenboogaart-Eliasen Foundation . We thank Ludmilla Martin and Kent Hansson for help with the field work. The research was funded by the ERA-Net BiodivERsA project smallFOREST , with national funders ANR (France), MINECO (Spain), FORMAS (Sweden), ETAG (Estonia), DFG/DLR (Germany) and BELSPO (Belgium) part of the 2011 BiodivERsA call for research proposals. Appendix A

    FundersFunder number
    Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
    Agence Nationale de la Recherche
    Svenska Forskningsrådet Formas
    Eesti Teadusagentuur
    Belgian Federal Science Policy Office
    Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt
    Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad
    Uyttenboogaart-Eliasen Stichting


      • Drought tolerance
      • Edge effects
      • Isopoda
      • Response trait
      • Small forest fragments


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