Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 93–98 | Cite as

Litter N-content influences soil millipede abundance, species richness and feeding preferences in a semi-evergreen dry forest of Guadeloupe (Lesser Antilles)

  • Gladys Loranger-Merciris
  • Daniel Imbert
  • France Bernhard-Reversat
  • Patrick Lavelle
  • Jean-François Ponge
Short Communication


Despite the impact of soil millipedes on litter fragmentation in tropical forests, there have been few studies dealing with factors determining their habitat preference in these ecosystems. In a natural secondary dry forest of Guadeloupe on Leptosol, two complementary studies were carried out in order to test the hypothesis that litter N-content strongly influences millipede distribution. Millipede abundance and species richness were described in the field under two tree species, Bursera simaruba and Pisonia subcordata, and were related to the chemical characteristics of their foliage. In addition, a laboratory experiment was done in order to assess millipede feeding preferences regarding the chemical characteristics of leaves from various species. Millipede abundance and species richness were significantly higher under P. subcordata than under B. simaruba, probably due to the higher N content of P. subcordata leaves. Moreover, millipedes fed preferentially on N-rich leaves. The present study confirms that there was a close correlation between the preferred food, its chemical composition and the local distribution of millipede populations.


Diplopoda Dry tropical forest Feeding preferences Litter quality Single tree effect 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gladys Loranger-Merciris
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniel Imbert
    • 2
  • France Bernhard-Reversat
    • 1
  • Patrick Lavelle
    • 1
  • Jean-François Ponge
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Ecologie des Sols Tropicaux, UMR 137 BIOSOLUniversité Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6/IRDBondy CedexFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Biologie et de Physiologie Végétales, EA 926 DYNECARUniversité des Antilles et de la GuyanePointe à Pitre CedexFrance
  3. 3.CNRS UMR 7179Muséum National d’Histoire NaturelleBrunoyFrance

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