Northern peatland Collembola communities unaffected by three summers of simulated extreme precipitation

E.J. Krab, R. Aerts, M.P. Berg, J.R. van Hal, F. Keuper

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Extreme climate events are observed and predicted to increase in frequency and duration in high-latitude ecosystems as a result of global climate change. This includes extreme precipitation events, which may directly impact on belowground food webs and ecosystem functioning by their physical impacts and by altering local soil moisture conditions.We assessed responses of the Collembola community in a northern Sphagnum fuscum-dominated ombrotrophic peatland to three years of experimentally increased occurrence of extreme precipitation events. Annual summer precipitation was doubled (an increase of 200. mm) by 16 simulated extreme rain events within the three months growing season, where on each occasion 12.5. mm of rain was added within a few minutes. Despite this high frequency and intensity of the rain events, no shifts in Collembola density, relative species abundances and community weighted means of three relevant traits (moisture preference, vertical distribution and body size) were observed. This strongly suggests that the peatland Collembola community is unaffected by the physical impacts of extreme precipitation and the short-term variability in moisture conditions. The lack of response is most likely reinforced by the fact that extreme precipitation events do not seem to alter longer-term soil moisture conditions in the peat layers inhabited by soil fauna.This study adds evidence to the observation that the biotic components of northern ombrotrophic peatlands are hardly responsive to an increase in extreme summer precipitation events. Given the importance of these ecosystems for the global C balance, these findings significantly contribute to the current knowledge of the ecological impact of future climate scenarios. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)70-76
    JournalApplied Soil Ecology
    Issue number79
    Early online date5 Apr 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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