Current Zoology(formerly Acta Zoologica Sinica), 2009, 55(4): 272 - 278
How do soil fauna and soil microbiota respond to beech forest growth?
Matthieu CHAUVAT, Andrei S. ZAITSEV, Ernst GABRIEL, Volkmar WOLTERS
D e p a r t m e n t o f A n i m a l E c o l o g y , J u s t u s L i e b i g U n i v e r s i t y , H e i n r i c h - B u f f - R i n g 2 6 - 3 2 , 3 5 3 9 2 G i e s s e n , G e r m a n y
The dynamics and performance of soil biota during forest rotation were studied in monoculture beech stands forming a chronosequence of four different age-classes (30, 62, 111, 153yr). Biomass was monitored in major groups of microflora, microfauna, mesofauna, and macrofauna. Resource availability (litter layer, soil organic mater), biomass of the two dominant decomposer groups (microflora, earthworms) as well as the biomass of mesofauna and microfauna were found to remain quite stable during forest succession. Nevertheless, the marked increase of the biomasses of primary decomposers (fungi, saprophagous macroinvertebrates) in the 62-year-old stand, followed by an increase of the biomasses of macropredators in the 111-year-old stand, indicate substantial changes of several components of edaphic communities during forest development. However, constant values of soil respiration suggest that the overall performance of the soil food web does not change during beech forest succession. Thus, the decomposer system of lowland managed beech forests on calcareous soils seems to be very stable over time. We suggest that earthworm activity might have masked impacts of forest development on other soil biota and led to an astounding stability of decomposer assemblages during beech forest rotation [Current Zoology 55 (4): 272–278, 2009].