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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2008

Temperature tolerance in soil microarthropods: Simulation of forest-fire heating in the laboratory

Malmstrom, Anna


Forest fires markedly reduce the abundance of surf ace-dwelling soil animals; animal densities also decline in soil layers underlying the char layer. The aim of the present study was to determine lethal temperatures for different species within the more abundant microarthropod groups in boreal forests, namely Collembola, Protura, Mesostigmata and Oribatida. In the laboratory, forest soil humus containing naturally occurring microarthropods was heated in plastic bags to avoid desiccation. Each sample was heated to one of 11 different temperatures between 20 and 60 degrees C for 1, 4, or 12 h. At the 1-h exposure, 36 degrees C was the highest temperature tolerated before significant decreases in numbers were detected. The corresponding temperatures after 4- and 12-h exposures were 34 degrees C for Oribatida and 30-32 degrees C for Collembola, Protura and Mesostigmata, respectively. Individual species responded differently, and the most heat-tolerant species within Oribatida was Tectocepheus velatus (40 degrees C at 4-h exposure) white Friesea mirabilis and Mesaphorura sp. (36 degrees C at 4-h exposure) were the most tolerant within Collembola. During a forest fire, temperatures higher than those tolerated by the investigated groups and species may well be reached. (C) 2008 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.


microarthropods; temperature tolerance; fire; soil temperature

Published in

2008, volume: 51, number: 5-6, pages: 419-426

Authors' information

Malmström, Anna
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
Forest Science

Publication Identifiers


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