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Fast attrition of springtail communities by experimental drought and richness–decomposition relationships across Europe

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  • Guille Peguero, Dept. of Biology, Universiteit Antwerpen, CSIC
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  • Daniel Sol, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, CSIC
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  • Miquel Arnedo, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona
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  • Henning Petersen, Natural History Museum
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  • Sandrine Salmon, Institut de Paléontologie Humaine
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  • Jean François Ponge, Institut de Paléontologie Humaine
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  • Joan Maspons, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
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  • Bridget Emmett, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
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  • Claus Beier, University of Copenhagen
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  • Inger K. Schmidt, University of Copenhagen
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  • Albert Tietema, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics - Amsterdam
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  • Paolo De Angelis, Università dellaTuscia
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  • Edit Kovács-Láng, Institute of Ecology and Botany Hungarian Academy of Sciences
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  • György Kröel-Dulay, Institute of Ecology and Botany Hungarian Academy of Sciences
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  • Marc Estiarte, CSIC, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
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  • Mireia Bartrons, CSIC, University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia
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  • Martin Holmstrup
  • Ivan A. Janssens, Dept. of Biology, Universiteit Antwerpen
  • ,
  • Josep Peñuelas, CSIC, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

Soil fauna play a fundamental role on key ecosystem functions like organic matter decomposition, although how local assemblages are responding to climate change and whether these changes may have consequences to ecosystem functioning is less clear. Previous studies have revealed that a continued environmental stress may result in poorer communities by filtering out the most sensitive species. However, these experiments have rarely been applied to climate change factors combining multiyear and multisite standardized field treatments across climatically contrasting regions, which has limited drawing general conclusions. Moreover, other facets of biodiversity, such as functional and phylogenetic diversity, potentially more closely linked to ecosystem functioning, have been largely neglected. Here, we report that the abundance, species richness, phylogenetic diversity, and functional richness of springtails (Subclass Collembola), a major group of fungivores and detritivores, decreased within 4 years of experimental drought across six European shrublands. The loss of phylogenetic and functional richness was higher than expected by the loss of species richness, leading to communities of phylogenetically similar species sharing evolutionary conserved traits. Additionally, despite the great climatic differences among study sites, we found that taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional richness of springtail communities alone were able to explain up to 30% of the variation in annual decomposition rates. Altogether, our results suggest that the forecasted reductions in precipitation associated with climate change may erode springtail communities and likely other drought-sensitive soil invertebrates, thereby retarding litter decomposition and nutrient cycling in ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Volume25
Issue8
Pages (from-to)2727-2738
Number of pages12
ISSN1354-1013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • biodiversity-ecosystem functioning, climate change, Collembola, drought, litter decomposition, shrublands, soil fauna

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