While environmental influence on populations is mostly studied at the level of taxonomic units we explore the alternative trait based approach. Our own studies have demonstrated that collembolan life‐forms correspond to metabolic types and types of sensitivity to pesticides. Since Gisin adopted and fine‐tuned the three basic life‐forms: euedaphic, hemiedaphic and epedaphic for collembolans, they have been widely used and have offered an extensive explanatory power to observations in physiology, ecology and environmental sciences. Those life‐forms are essentially trait based combining morphological and ecological properties. To gain empirical evidence for the value of traits we used data from a recently published study originating from six European shrublands covering cold temperate heath‐ and moorland to Mediterranean maquis and from moist moorland to dry continental forest‐steppe shrubland. Each location was subject to experimental treatments with either warming, where radiation during night was impeded resulting in an average annual increase of 0.3‐1.3°C, depending on location, or drought, where precipitation was prevented during periods of the growing season. The original data showed several significant responses on the species level to the treatments where both taxonomic composition and extent of significant effects varied between the six sites. The basic hypothesis of the present work is that similar groups with respect to traits will respond in a similar manner to environmental stress across species of the local community. Furthermore, provided that the composition of traits is similar across Europe the response to environmental stress will also be similar. Hence, traits corresponding to morphological and ecological properties were subject to our analyses of treatment effects across European locations. We present an evaluation and comparison of traits through their ability to reflect the environmental changes within and among sites.
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XVI International Colloquium on Soil Zoology and Biology, 2012