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


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


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


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