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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Desiccation resistance determines distribution of woodlice along forest edge-to-interior gradients

De Smedt, Pallieter; Baeten, Lander; Berg, Matty P.; Gallet-Moron, Emilie; Brunet, Jorg; Cousins, Sara A. O.; Decocq, Guillaume; Diekmann, Martin; Giffard, Brice; De Frenne, Pieter; Hermy, Martin; Bonte, Dries; Verheyen, Kris


Forest edges show strong abiotic and biotic gradients potentially altering community composition and ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling. While abiotic gradients are well studied, short-scale biotic gradients, like detritivore species composition and their associated trait distribution remains a poorly explored research-field. We sampled woodlice in 160 forest patches across Europe at varying distances from the forest edge and discovered that species desiccation resistance determines distribution along forest edge-to-interior gradients. Forest edges are warmer and dryer compared to interiors and favour drought-tolerant species, while abundance and activity of drought-sensitive species is reduced at the edge. Key ecological factors for litter-dwelling detritivores (i.e. humidity) act as environmental filter, because of species-specific differences in desiccation resistance. Future research should focus on quantifying the consequences of a changing detritivore community and their associated functional traits for nutrient cycling.


Drought tolerance; Edge effects; Isopoda; Response trait; Small forest fragments

Published in

European Journal of Soil Biology
2018, Volume: 85, pages: 1-3

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