, Volume 137, Issue 2, pp 269-276
Date: 26 Jul 2003

Successional changes of Collembola and soil microbiota during forest rotation

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Dynamic approaches to forest ecosystems are surprisingly rare. Here we report about successional changes in collembolan community structure and microbial performances during forest rotation. The study was carried out in a chronosequence of four spruce forest stands (5-, 25-, 45-, and 95 years old; Tharandter forest, Germany). CO2 release significantly increased after clear-cutting and the amount of C stored in the organic layer subsequently declined. The early phase of forest rotation was characterized by a very active decomposer microflora, stimulation of both fungi and bacteria as well as by a high abundance of surface-oriented Collembola. In addition, collembolan species turnover was accelerated. While the biomass of fungi further increased at intermediate stages of forest rotation, the metabolic activity of the microflora was low, the functional diversity of bacteria declined and the collembolan community became impoverished. Euedaphic species dominated during this stage of forest development. These changes can be explained by both reduction in microhabitat diversity and depletion of food sources associated with an accumulation of recalcitrant soil organic matter. Results of the General Regression Model procedure indicate a shift from specific associations between collembolan functional groups and microbiota at the early stage of forest rotation to a more diffuse pattern at intermediate stages. Though the hypothesis that Collembola are relatively responsive to changes in environmental conditions is confirmed, consistently high community similarity suggests a remarkable persistence of some components of microarthropod assemblages. Our study provides evidence for substantial ecosystem-level implications of changes in the soil food web during forest rotation. Moreover, correlations between bacterial parameters and Collembola point to the overarching impact of differences in the composition of the microbial community on microarthropods.