Vertical distribution of Collembola (Hexapoda) and their food resources in organic horizons of beech forests
Micro-samples of the surface organic horizons of 13 beech forests in Belgium were fixed immediately after collection in ethanol. Collembola (6255 animals) were sorted directly from micro-samples in the laboratory using a dissecting microscope, while the litter/soil matrix was analysed semi-quantitatively. The vertical distribution of Collembolan species was studied by correspondence analysis. Gut contents of animals were examined under a light microscope and their composition was compared with that of the matrix. A consistent association was found between the vertical distribution of gut contents and that of food resources in the immediate proximity of animals. Species differed in their feeding habits but most of them ingested a wide spectrum of food items. Plasticity in the food regime according to depth could be demonstrated in members of the Onychiuridae family.
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