Soil-inhabiting Tardigrade Communities in Forests of Central Japan
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This study was carried out for the purpose of detecting the relationship between soil-inhabiting tardigrade communities and environmental factors of various forests. Nine forests in the southern part of Kanagawa Prefecture, Central Japan, were selected for this study. Four vegetation types were designated; broadleaved (evergreen/deciduous), coniferous and orchard. In these sites, dry weight of leaf litter, soil pH, soil hardness, soil moisture content and porosity ratio were measured. Wet soil faunal frequencies were also described. The Baermann funnel method was adopted for collecting tardigrades, and DIC microscopy was used for specific identification. To clarify the correlation between environmental variables and tardigrade faunae, multivariate analysis was applied.
The tardigrade fauna occurred as two distinct groups. The first group primarily contained Macrobiotus species. The second group contained the genus Diphascon (e.g. D. nobilei, D. patanei, D. prorsirostre). An exception to this was D. pingue, included in the former. Most of the Diphascon species were concentrated in Nebu (coniferous forest site), while, Macrobiotus species were dominant in other sites. Distinct environmental factors could not be identified, but the nematodal frequency was recognized as the main factor in forming these groups. The uniqueness of Nebu, which does not correspond to large-scaled vegetational classification, was substantiated by statistical data. Nebu’s coniferous forest apparently has created a unique environment for sustaining rare species (Diphascon species). This study concluded that forests should be evaluated not only by the macroscopic factors, such as landscape, but also by the microscopic communities, such as those including the tardigrades.
Keywordssoil-inhabiting tardigrade forest types community ecology CCA
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