Acquisition of microbial communities and enhanced availability of soil nutrients by the isopod Porcellio scaber (Latr.) (Isopoda: Oniscidea)
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In microcosm experiments Porcellio scaber increased litter disappearance of oak and alder litter. Alder litter disappeared at more than twice the rate of oak litter. Soil texture did not influence the disappearance of oak litter; however, disappearance of alder litter was enhanced on silt rather than on sand. P. scaber enhanced microbial communities (i.e. microbial respiration and microbial biomass) on both silt and sand when feeding on either alder or oak. Overall, microbial respiration increased 10-fold when isopods fed on oak litter on sand and 20-fold when isopods fed on alder litter on sand. On silt, the initially high microbial respiration remained constant when isopods fed on oak and doubled when they fed on alder litter. In all treatments without P. scaber there was a decrease in microbial respiration over the 12-week experimental period. The availability of macronutrients (Corg, Ntot, P, K, Mg, Ca) in the topsoil was increased when P. scaber fed on alder litter but less pronounced when P. scaber fed on oak litter. Using sand as a substrate, there was an apparent increase only for Corg, Mg and Ca; on silt, increases in Corg, Ntot and P were measured. Under field conditions the contribution of P. scaber to nutrient fluxes will be higher on sand than on silt.
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