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

De Smedt, Pallieter, Baeten, Lander, Berg, Matty P., Gallet-Moron, Emilie, Brunet, Jörg, Cousins, Sara A.O., Decocq, Guillaume, Diekmann, Martin, Giffard, Brice, De Frenne, Pieter, Hermy, Martin, Bonte, Dries, Verheyen, Kris
European journal of soil biology 2018 v.85 pp. 1-3
Isopoda, biogeochemical cycles, community structure, detritivores, drought tolerance, ecosystems, edge effects, environmental factors, forests, humidity, species diversity, Europe
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.