Dynamics and stratification of functional groups of micro- and mesoarthropods in the organic layer of a Scots pine forest.

M.P. Berg, J.P. Kniese, J.J.M. Bedaux, H.A. Verhoef

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This paper addresses the abundance, biomass and microstratification of functional groups of micro- and mesoarthropods inhabiting the organic layers of a Scots pine forest (Pinus sylvestris L.). An experiment using stratified litterbags, containing organic material of four degradation stages, i.e., freshly fallen litter, litter, fragmented litter and humus, was performed over a period of 2.5 years. Statistical data analysis revealed that each organic layer had a different, characteristic species composition that changed with time following successive degradation stages. Species of Acari, Araneae and Collembola were assigned to different functional groups based on taxonomy, microstratification, food type or feeding mode. The abundance and biomass carbon of functional groups were dependent on the organic layer and most functional groups showed a particular preference for one of the upper organic layers. Temporal and spatial differences in density and biomass carbon of functional groups could partly be related to fluctuations in the soil climate, although effects of trophic interactions could not be ruled out. A general decline in abundance and biomass, especially in populations of fungal feeders, during the last year of the study could not be explained by a reduction in litterbag volume, changed litter chemistry or soil climate, but was attributed to an indirect effect of a remarkable increase in soil coverage by wavy hair grass, Deschampsia flexuosa (L.). The analysis demonstrated that species diversity, microhabitat specification, soil fauna succession, and degradation stages of organic material are interrelated. The results obtained indicate that both the chemistry of organic matter and decomposition rates have an important effect on trophic relationships and community structure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-284
Number of pages17
JournalBiology and Fertility of Soils
Volume26
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1998

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