Studies of biological responses in the terrestrial environment to rapid changes in climate have mostly been concerned with aboveground biota, whereas less is known of belowground organisms. The present study focuses on mites and springtails of heathland ecosystems and how the microarthropod community has responded to simulated climate change in a long-term field experiment. Increased temperature and repeated drought was applied for 13 years to field plots located in Wales, The Netherlands and Denmark representing sites of contrasting climatic conditions with respect to precipitation and temperature. This approach provided an opportunity to study biological responses on a local (within sites) and regional scale. Warming treatments increasing night time temperature (0.3–1 °C higher than ambient at 5 cm soil depth) had no detectable effects on the microarthropod communities. Increased intensity and frequency of drought had only weak persistent effects on springtail species composition, but practically no effect on major mite groups (Oribatida, Prostigmata or Mesostigmata) suggesting that ecosystem functions of microarthropods may only be transiently impacted by repeated spring or summer drought.
Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 2013, Vol 66, p. 110-118
Acari; Climate change; Collembola; Community composition; Soil fauna; Drought