Effects of root and leaf litter identity and diversity on oribatid mite abundance, species richness and community composition
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/16331
Habitat heterogeneity is an important driver of aboveground species diversity but few studies have investigated effects on soil communities. Trees shape their surrounding by both leaf litter and roots generating small scale heterogeneity and potentially governing community patterns of soil organisms. To assess the role of vegetation for the soil fauna, we studied whether tree species (Fagus sylvatica L., Acer pseudoplatanus L., Fraxinus excelsior L., Tilia cordata Mill.), markedly differing in leaf litter quality and root associated mycorrhizal symbionts, affect oribatid mite communities by shaping below- and aboveground resources and habitat complexity and availability. Oribatid mite abundance, species richness, community structure and the proportion of litter living and parthenogenetic individuals were analyzed and related to microbial biomass and the amount of remaining litter mass. Although leaf litter species with higher nutritional values decomposed considerably faster, microbial biomass only slightly differed between leaf litter species. Neither root species nor leaf litter species affected abundance, species richness or community structure of oribatid mites. However, root species had an effect on the proportion of parthenogenetic individuals with increased proportions in the presence of beech roots. Overall, the results suggest that identity and diversity of vegetation via leaf litter or roots are of minor importance for structuring oribatid mite communities of a temperate forest ecosystem.