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Bosque (Valdivia)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-9200

Bosque (Valdivia) vol.39 no.3 Valdivia  2018

http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-92002018000300441 

Artículos

Richness and diversity of litter and soil fauna as affected by differences in three fir species

Riqueza y diversidad de la hojarasca y la fauna del suelo afectado por las diferencias en tres especies de abeto

Meric Cakir a  

1Çankırı Karatekin University, Faculty of Forestry, Department of Soil Science and Ecology, 18200, Çankırı, Turkey

SUMMARY:

The main objective of this study was to evaluate the relationships between soil and litter properties and the distribution and diversity of microarthropods in Atatürk Arboretum (Turkey). Soil and litter samples were collected from three fir species: Taurus fir (TF - Abies cilicica Carr.), Uludağ fir (UF - Abies nordmanniana ssp. bornmuelleriana Mattf.) and Caucasian fir (CF - Abies nordmanniana ssp nordmanniana Mattf.). Microarthropods were sampled bimonthly using steel soil corers from May 2012 to March 2013. Redundancy analysis (RDA) detected clear relationships between microarthropods and litter mass and soil moisture. Litter mass at site CF was significantly larger than that at sites UF and TF. The mean annual density of microarthropods per square meter was 62,888 individuals m-2 for site TF, 57,246 individuals m-2 for site UF, and 59,959 individuals m-2 for site CF. Shannon-Wiener diversity index (H′) values were significantly different among the study sites. Species diversity of soil arthropods was higher at site CF than at sites TF and UF. Results show that soil pH, litter mass and soil moisture are the principal attributes determining richness and diversity of microarthropods found under three different fir species.

Key words: Microarthropods; fir; litter; biodiversity; Atatürk Arboretum

RESUMEN:

El objetivo principal de este estudio fue evaluar las relaciones entre las propiedades del suelo y la hojarasca en relación con la distribución y la diversidad de microartrópodos en Atatürk Arboretum (Turquía). Se tomaron muestras de suelo y hojarasca de tres especies de abeto: abeto Taurus (TF - Abies cilicica), abeto Uludağ (UF - Abies nordmanniana ssp.bornmuelleriana) y abeto caucásico (CF - Abies nordmanniana ssp nordmanniana). Los microartrópodos fueron muestreados bimestralmente, utilizando cilinderos de acero de suelo de acero desde mayo de 2012 hasta marzo de 2013. El análisis de redundancia (RDA) detectó claramente relaciones entre los microartrópodos y la masa de la hojarasca y la humedad del suelo. La masa del suelo del bosque en el sitio CF fue significativamente mayor que la de los sitios UF y TF. La densidad media anual de microartrópodos por metro cuadrado fue de 62.888 para el sitio TF, mientras que 57.246 para UF y 59.959 para CF. Los valores del índice de diversidad de Shannon-Wiener (H') fueron significativamente diferentes entre los sitios de estudio. La diversidad de especies de artrópodos del suelo fue mayor en el sitio de CF que en los sitios de TF y UF. Los resultados mostraron además que el pH del suelo, la masa de la hojarasca y la humedad del suelo fueron los principales atributos que determinaron la riqueza y la diversidad de los microartrópodos bajo tres especies diferentes de abeto.

Palabras clave: microartrópodos; abeto; hojarasca; biodiversidad; Arboreto de Atatürk

INTRODUCTION

Tree species affect ecosystem properties and soil structure through the chemical and physical effects of their roots and improve the nutrient content of soils through the decomposition of their litter (Binkley and Giardina 1998). Biologically, trees affect almost all organisms in forest ecosystems. Differences in the chemical composition of litter may have considerable effects on the community structure of arthropods (Çakır and Makineci 2018). Thick litter layers also increase the available habitat space (Scheu et al. 2003) and regulate microclimate for soil fauna. Humus forms and litter quality may affect the abundance and diversity of microarthropods (Cakir and Makineci 2013).

Previous studies have shown that microarthropods are non-randomly distributed and reported that their abundance and diversity are strongly related to the chemical, physical and ecological properties of their environment (Antunes et al. 2008). Important factors determining microarthropod composition include vegetation type, soil structure and chemistry, organic matter, soil microflora, and soil moisture and temperature (Gutiérrez-López et al. 2010). The relationships among microarthropod species can also determine the spatial distribution of microarthropods (Wardle 2002). Previous studies have shown that predator relationships are an important factor in determining the distribution of microarthropods (Birkhofer et al. 2011).

The relationship between soil biodiversity and forest trees has been previously investigated. Previous studies have shown that the effect of tree species on microarthropod diversity can be positive (Sabais et al. 2011), negative (Alphei et al. 1996) or neutral (Wardle 2002). Only a few studies have shown how trees species affect soil microarthropod diversity. However, the effect remains unknown in these fir species.

The genus Abies (Pinaceae) includes 48-49 species spread throughout the world. This genus is represented by two species and six subspecies in Turkey. The most common fir taxa in Turkey are Taurus fir (TF - Abies cilicica Carr.), Uludağ fir (UF - Abies nordmanniana ssp. bornmuelleriana Mattf.) and Caucasian fir (CF - Abies nordmanniana ssp nordmanniana Mattf.). The total area of Turkey covered by firs is 626647 ha (Yaltırık and Akkemik 2011). These tree species are found in different locations in Turkey, specifically the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions. In addition, these tree species were planted in Atatürk Arboretum in 1960. These stands have the same soil types and almost the same site characteristics, such as climate and hydrology.

All possible responses - positive, negative and neutral - have been found when examining the effect of tree species on the abundance and diversity of microarthropods; although, it is not clearly known which factors influence these changes in the community structure (Wardle 2002). Microarthropod abundance and diversity were investigated under three fir species in Atatürk Arboretum to determine the effect of tree species on the community structure of microarthropods and some litter and soil properties. The aims of this study are to (1) determine how tree species affect the physicochemical characteristics of litter and soil, and (2) compare soil microarthropod abundance and diversity found under three different fir species.

METHODS

The study area, Atatürk Arboretum, is located in Belgrad Forest in Istanbul, Turkey, between 41(09′48″-41(10′55″ N latitudes and 28(57′27″-28(59′2 7″ E longitudes. The altitude is 140 m, the slope is 10-15 %, and the area is southerly exposed. According to the long-term data from the Bahcekoy Meteorology Station, the nearest meteorology station to the study area, the mean annual precipitation is 1121 mm, the mean annual temperature is 13.0 °C, the mean highest temperature is 17.8 °C and the mean lowest temperature is 9.0 °C. Belgrad Forest has a maritime climate with moderate water deficiency in summers. According to the World Reference Base for Soil Resources (WRB), the soil group in the research area is Luvisol. The soil texture is loamy and well drained. The vegetative period lasts for 7.5 months (230 days) on average. Atatürk Arboretum (∼296 ha) was established in 1949 and is home to over 2,000 plant species, as well as a variety of insects and birds.

Microarthropods were sampled bimonthly from May 2012 to March 2013. At each site (UF, CF, and TF), a 40 × 40 m plot was established and divided into three 4 × 4 m subplots. Microarthropods were collected (5 cm diameter, 5 cm length) from each subplot using a soil core. Abundance and diversity of total microarthropods were obtained from three samples at each sampling plot on each sampling date. A total of 54 samples (3 sites × 3 plots × 6 months) was collected. Microarthropods were extracted using Tullgren funnels (Coleman et al. 2004). The extraction process was completed (± 72 h) when the soil was completely dried. All extracted arthropod samples were preserved in 70 % ethanol and identified up to the order or family level, then counted under a stereoscopic microscope (Leica S8 APO; Leica Microsystems, Germany).

Soil samples (5 cm diameter, depth 5 cm) were collected bimonthly from three blocks at each site from 2012 to 2013, using steel soil cores. Soil temperature was measured with a soil thermometer at 5 cm depth at each sampling point. The soil was homogenized by hand kneading the sampling paper bags. Stone, macrofauna and plant roots were removed carefully. Soil samples were oven-dried at 105 °C for 48 h, and afterwards, finely ground (< 2 mm) for analyses. Soil pH and electrical conductivity (EC) were determined with a combination electrode using 1:2.5 and 1:5 ratios of soil to deionized water, respectively. Litter samples were collected from three sampling points, using 0.25-m² at approximately 4-m intervals, under each of the tree species. Litter samples were oven-dried at 75 °C for 48 h to determine the dry weight and, subsequently, finely ground (< 0.5 mm) for analyzing carbon and nitrogen. Soil and litter carbon and nitrogen contents were determined using a CN analyzer (LECO, St. Joseph, MI, USA).

Physical, chemical and biological data were analyzed by one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). The difference among groups was determined by Tukey’s HSD, using P < 0.05 level of significance. The same test was performed to assess the difference in taxa abundance between months. Most of the variables were not normally distributed and therefore were log transformed. Diversity (Shannon-Wiener), richness (Margalef) and evenness (Pielou) indices were calculated for each sampling area (Shannon and Weaver 1949). The relationship between microarthropods and explanatory variables was analyzed using redundancy analysis (RDA). The effect of tree species on microarthropod community composition was analyzed using CANOCO, version 5.0 (ter Braak and Šmilauer 2012). Statistical significance of RDA was evaluated with a Monte Carlo test with 999 permutations.

RESULTS

Most litter and soil variables and some of the arthropod related variables were significantly different among fir species (table 1). The mass of the litter at site CF was significantly higher (P < 0.01) than that at sites UF and TF. Carbon and nitrogen concentrations of litter were significantly higher at site UF (P < 0.01) than at sites TF and CF (table 1). There was no significant difference in the C/N ratio of litter among study sites. Soil carbon and C/N ratios at site TF were significantly higher (P < 0.01) than those at the other two sites, while soil pH was significantly higher (P < 0.01) at site CF. Non-significant differences were recorded for other soil parameters (moisture content, soil temperature, nitrogen concentration and electrical conductivity) among sampling sites. Shannon diversity index (H′) was significantly different among the study sites. Species diversity of microarthropods was higher at site CF than at sites TF and UF. Evenness values were not significant among the three fir species (P > 0.05) (table 1).

Table 1 Chemical, physical and biological properties of the study area in Atatürk Arboretum. Propiedades químicas, físicas y biológicas del área de estudio en Atatürk Arboretum. 

Values are the mean ± standard deviation. W, moisture content at sampling; T, temperature at soil sampling; N, nitrogen concentration; C, carbon concentration; EC, electrical conductivity; H′, Shannon-Wiener diversity index; S, Richness; Jʹ, Pielou’s Evenness; N, Abundance. Means with different letters in the same line are different (P < 0.05).

Microarthropods were distributed among 31 taxa (table 2). Microarthropod abundance varied between 62,888 individuals m-2 (TF) and 57,246 individuals m-2 (UF) across the fir species sites. Collembola and Acari were the dominant groups, accounting for 97 % in TF, 96 % in UF and 95 % in CF of the total soil microarthropods. Among these, Isotomidae (Collembola), Oribatida, Prostigmata and Mesostigmata (Acari) were the most abundant groups in the soil samples.

Table 2 Mean annual abundance and percentage of microarthropod groups (individuals per square meter) found under three different fir species. Abundancia anual media y porcentaje de grupos de microartrópodos (individuos por metro cuadrado) en tres especies diferentes de abetos. 

Means with different letters in the same line are significantly different (P < 0.05).

Some microarthropods were significantly different across the firs. Entomobryidae, Tomoceridae, Sminthuridae, Neelidae (Collembola), Chordeumatida (Diplopoda), Oniscidae (Isopoda) and Pseudoscorpionida were found in significantly superior abundance at site CF (table 2). Prostigmata was the only group that differed significantly in abundance among firs that was not found in the highest abundance at site CF. Hypopus, which is a unique nymphal stage of some astigmatic mites, Polidesmida, Chordeumatida, Lithobiomorpha and Scutigerella taxa did not occur at site UF, while Isopoda taxa (Oniscidae and Armadillidiidae) occurred only at site CF; Polyxenidae (Diplopoda), however, occurred only at sites TF and UF. Pauropoda, Araneae, Geophilimorpha and Japigidae were absent at site TF.

Seasonal changes in the abundance of some taxa found under the three different fir species are shown in figure 1. Oribatida, Prostigmata and Isotomidae are the most abundant taxa in the study area. There are significant differences among mean values for microarthropod taxa over time (months). This can be attributed to increase in humidity in spring and autumn and decrease in humidity during summer and winter drought periods (figure 1).

Figure 1 Seasonal changes in abundance of some taxa found under three fir species during the study period. Means with different letters are significantly different at P < 0.05. Cambios estacionales de abundancia de algunos taxones en tres especies de abeto diferentes durante el período de estudio. Medias con letras diferentes son significativamente diferentes (P < 0,05). 

Redundancy analysis (RDA) conducted using the forward selection method showed that litter mass (Litter; P = 0.018), litter carbon (LitterC; P = 0.038), soil acidity (pH; P = 0.031), soil temperature (T°; P = 0.042), Shannon diversity (Hʹ) and evenness (Jʹ) were the only variables that had a significant effect on the distribution of the different taxa (according to Monte Carlo permutation test with P < 0.05 for all these variables). The abundance of microarthropods was affected by tree species and some environmental variables (figure 2). RDA axis 1 represents an environmental gradient and axis 2 represents a tree species gradient among microarthropods. Eigenvalues of RDA axis 1 (0.196, P ≤ 0.001) and 2 (0.079) explained 50.9 % of the total microarthropod-environment variance. Microarthropod-environment correlations were both axis 1 (0.97) and 2 (0.79). Our results also showed that the abundance of microarthropods depended on the litter mass, litter carbon, soil pH and soil temperature (figure 2).

Figure 2 RDA ordination diagram showing quantitative community composition in relation to the fir species. Species are represented by blue arrows and environmental variables are represented by red arrow (TF, Taurus fir; UF, Uludağ fir; CF, Caucasian fir; Litter, litter mass; LitterC, litter carbon; pH, soil acidity; T°, soil temperature; Hʹ, Shannon-Wiener diversity; and Jʹ, Pielou’s evenness). For the abbreviations of the soil arthropod code, see table 2. Diagrama de ordenación RDA que muestra la composición cuantitativa de la comunidad en relación con los sitios de abeto. Las especies están representadas por flechas azules y las variables ambientales flechas rojas (TF, abeto Tauro; UF, abeto Uludağ; CF, abeto Caucásico; hojarasca, masa de hojarasca; LitterC, carbono de hojarasca; pH, acidez del suelo; T °, temperatura del suelo; H', diversidad de Shannon-Wiener; y J', índice de Pielou). Para ver las abreviaturas del código de artrópodos del suelo, consulte el cuadro 2

DISCUSSION

In the present study, CF is clearly statistically separated from other sites in terms of litter mass, litter carbon and litter nitrogen and microarthropod diversity (table 1 and figure 2). In addition, Monte Carlo tests of RDA were used to evaluate relationships between microarthropods and litter mass, litter carbon, soil pH and temperature, which revealed that fir species may induce changes in biotic and abiotic variables (Augusto et al. 2002).

The total abundance of microarthropods ranged from 57,246 to 62,888 indviduals m-² and was not significantly different (P > 0.05) among the three fir species. Some taxa were significantly higher at site CF where soil pH, litter mass, soil carbon, nitrogen and C/N ratio were significantly different from those at the other sites (table 1). The highest biodiversity of microarthropods was found at site CF (H´:1.96; P = 0.000) compared to TF (1.72) and UF (1.62) (table 1) sites. These results indicate that litter mass, litter carbon, soil pH and temperature significantly influenced the abundance and diversity of some taxa (figure 2). Some studies (Gongalsky et al. 2008, Sharon et al. 2001) conducted in Mediterranean forests show that soil parameters were more important for explaining differences among soil animal communities than among plant communities. Moço et al. (2010) showed that invertebrate diversity was affected by soil quality components; soil pH in particular had a direct positive effect on the diversity of microarthropods. In general, increase in soil acidity decreases the abundance of microarthropods (Gillet and Ponge 2004, Loranger-Merciris et al. 2001). Compared to other sites, acidic TF soils had high carbon and nitrogen content (table 1). This suggests that soil pH affects the rates of decomposition of organic matter, changing the carbon and nitrogen content of the soil. This pH-mediated increase in carbon and nitrogen content has a negative effect on the diversity of microarthropods. The lowest soil carbon content can be expected in forest soils with a pH range 5.0-6.0. Below pH 5.0, biological activity is reduced, which may lower the decomposition rates of organic matter, leading to increase in carbon content (Motavalli et al. 1995). Our results show that pH positively affected microarthropods at CF site, which had the highest pH among the three sites. Similar results on the effect of pH on microarthropod communities have been reported elsewhere (Lavelle et al. 1995). Soil pH has been identified as a factor strongly influencing Collembola communities (Gillet and Ponge 2004), (Loranger-Merciris et al. 2001). The results of the present study show that Collembola was the second most abundant arthropod identified at all the three fir sites. This is in agreement with the results of (Fountain and Hopkin 2005) who reported that Collembola was the most abundant hexapod in soil and can reach high densities up to 100,000 individuals per square meter. In the present study, Entomobryidae, Tomoceridae, Sminthuridae and Neelidae were found in significantly higher abundance at CF site (table 1, figure 1).

Thick litter layers form a preferred habitat for microarthropods (Hasegawa and Takeda 1996, Ponge 2003). Several studies have reported about the relationship between the abundance of microarthropods and amount of litter (Cakir and Makineci 2013). In the present study, the highest litter mass was measured at CF site; this explains the larger richness of saprophagous taxa such as Isopoda and Diplopoda at this site. David and Gillon (2002) stated that diplopods do not feed on fresh and phenolic-rich litter. Litter consists of three layers: litter, fermentation and humus. As Entomobryidae and Tomoceridae (Collembola) are relatively large microarthropods, they require a thick litter layer for shelter. A thick litter layer supports an abundance of Collembola, which leads to a large fermentation layer comprised of rich, decomposing organic matter, which promotes diplopod abundance. This may explain the higher abundance of Entomobryidae (Collembola) and Chordeumatida (Diplopoda) at site CF.

The diversity of microarthropods was also affected by carbon and nitrogen content, low C/N ratio and decomposition rate. Cakir and Makineci (2013) reported a positive correlation between the quality of litter and the diversity of microarthropods. Similarly, low C/N ratio and high diversity and richness were found at site CF.

CONCLUSIONS

Fir species were found to significantly affect soil microarthropod diversity and abundance. The distribution of microarthropod taxa was significantly affected by the pH and temperature of soil and carbon content and mass of litter, which are all influenced by fir species. For example, some arthropod species were found only at CF. There was no significant difference among fir species in the abundance of arthropods, while their richness and diversity were significantly different. The most important diversity and richness occurred at site CF and lowest at UF. The amount of litter mass varied with fir species. This was attributed to the differences in the litter decomposition rate, which is affected by dissimilarities in the amount and chemical composition of litter falls. In addition, these differences in litter had a major influence on carbon and nitrogen content and pH of the study soils. Mean abundance of some arthropod taxa was significantly different between fir species and seasons. The thick litter layer at CF compared to TF and UF indicated that neither the ecological niche nor the amount of organic matter was the driving force that determined the structure of the microarthropod community. Results showed that variation in soil arthropods was affected by the properties of soil and litter under three different fir species. Further studies are required to better understand and generalize the relationship between soil arthropods and plants.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I especially thank Prof. Dr. Sabit Erşahin and Dr. María del Carmen Fernández Lago for their help and support on the manuscript.

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Received: November 22, 2017; Accepted: October 16, 2018

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