Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 428–438

Biodiversity development of terrestrial testate amoebae: is there any succession at all?


    • State Museum of Natural History Görlitz
  • Willi E. R. Xylander
    • State Museum of Natural History Görlitz
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00374-005-0850-y

Cite this article as:
Wanner, M. & Xylander, W.E.R. Biol Fertil Soils (2005) 41: 428. doi:10.1007/s00374-005-0850-y


Heterotrophic protists (e.g. testate amoebae) play an important part in primary succession because these unicellular organisms occur immediately at newly exposed land surfaces in high abundances and biomasses, facilitating the establishment of plants and animals. We investigated testate amoebae from soils of different age and successional stage, which revealed remarkably high abundances and biomasses even at very dry sites. Emphasis was set on two inland dune microchronosequences of different plant successional stages (bare sand, Corynephorus canescens and Polytrichum piliferum as early stages; Festuca ovina and Pinus sylvestris as late stages). The number of testate amoebae species increased clearly with the successional stage of the vegetation cover, but no consistent replacement or extinction of taxa was observed. The “newcomers” obviously did not reduce the density of the “residents”, although the community pattern (abundances, biomasses, dominances) was significantly altered. Organism-free substrate of different quality exposed to the air or adjacent soil was colonised quickly and in high abundance by testate amoebae, but no temporal replacement of species occurred. Cluster analysis of species inventory and abundances of numerous types of soil of different age highlight a classification of amoebal communities towards regional influences rather than local successional stages of vegetation. These data corroborate the fact that belowground communities operate differently from plant communitites in that they are characterised by additive invasion and not by interspecific competition. This is typical for a neutral community model.


MicrofaunaProtozoaSoil implantation experimentsSpecies replacementAdditive colonisation

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005