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Research article2016Peer reviewedOpen access

Small-scale Collembola community composition in a pine forest soil - Overdispersion in functional traits indicates the importance of species interactions

Widenfalk, Lina; Malmström, Anna; Berg, Matty P.; Bengtsson, Jan


Soil communities are considered to be remarkably species-rich and to have many generalist species with seemingly similar niche requirements. The composition of soil fauna communities is often highly variable even at the plot scale, and both the environment and the spatial configuration of microhabitats are regarded as important forces shaping the structure of local communities. However, to what extent these forces are important in different ecosystems is not clear. We examined the relative roles of environmental (abiotic), vegetation (biotic) and spatial variables (using Moran's eigenvector maps, MEM) for the small-scale variation in springtail (Collembola) communities in a 100 m(2) area of the forest floor of a mature Scots pine forest in central Sweden, with small variation in important environmental variables.We found that most of the small-scale variation in community composition could be explained by spatial variables, either alone or jointly with the environmental variables. Spatial variability in community composition, in turn, could be related to shifts in functional traits of the component species. Within local communities (samples), species showed a higher diversity than expected by chance in almost all examined traits, indicating that differences in resource and micro-habitat utilisation enable Collembola species to coexist. Competition between species is therefore likely to be important for structuring Collembola communities at this spatial scale. The results indicate that the spatial scale of study and heterogeneity of environmental factors influence soil fauna community assembly processes through effects on the relative importance of environmental filtering compared to filtering by limiting similarity or competitive exclusion. (C) 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Diversity; Environmental filter; Soil fauna; Spatial configuration; Springtail; Variation partitioning

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Soil Biology and Biochemistry
2016, Volume: 103, pages: 52-62
Publisher: Elsevier

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