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PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e43102. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043102. Epub 2012 Aug 15.

Seasonal exposure to drought and air warming affects soil Collembola and mites.

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Key Laboratory of Vegetation Restoration and Management of Degraded Ecosystems, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China.


Global environmental changes affect not only the aboveground but also the belowground components of ecosystems. The effects of seasonal drought and air warming on the genus level richness of Collembola, and on the abundance and biomass of the community of Collembola and mites were studied in an acidic and a calcareous forest soil in a model oak-ecosystem experiment (the Querco experiment) at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL in Birmensdorf. The experiment included four climate treatments: control, drought with a 60% reduction in rainfall, air warming with a seasonal temperature increase of 1.4 °C, and air warming + drought. Soil water content was greatly reduced by drought. Soil surface temperature was slightly increased by both the air warming and the drought treatment. Soil mesofauna samples were taken at the end of the first experimental year. Drought was found to increase the abundance of the microarthropod fauna, but reduce the biomass of the community. The percentage of small mites (body length ≤ 0.20 mm) increased, but the percentage of large mites (body length >0.40 mm) decreased under drought. Air warming had only minor effects on the fauna. All climate treatments significantly reduced the richness of Collembola and the biomass of Collembola and mites in acidic soil, but not in calcareous soil. Drought appeared to have a negative impact on soil microarthropod fauna, but the effects of climate change on soil fauna may vary with the soil type.

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