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Study of a mixed forest litter of hornbeam carpinus betulus l. and oak quercus sessiliflora smith iii. organization of the edaphic macroarthropod community as a function of litter quantity



Study of a mixed forest litter of hornbeam carpinus betulus l. and oak quercus sessiliflora smith iii. organization of the edaphic macroarthropod community as a function of litter quantity



Acta Oecologica 11(1): 43-60



In a mixed forest ecosystem in the Paris region, the structure of the edaphic macroarthropod community has been characterized as a function of the thickness of the litter layer in experimental enclosures. Quantitative variability of the most decayed litter - F layer - is the result of little fall differences. The abundance of the different groups is on the whole enhanced by the quantity of litter sheltering them. When the volume is small, macroarthropod density is around 70 individuals .times. 16-1 m-2; it can reach 231 individuals in places where leaves accumulate. The number of macroarthropods does not increase regularly however with the thickness of the leaf layer; when there is an accumulation of leaves, the litter is proportionally more populated than where the layer is thinner. This is mainly due to certain species for which a thin layer is a limiting factor. This is the case in particular with Isopoda such as Trichoniscus pusillus and Scatopsidae larvae. On the other hand the number of Chironomidae and Cecidomyiidae Diptera larvae colonizing a similar quantity of dead leaves is almost the same in the accumulation and non-accumulation litter sites. This is also true for predators. The limiting factor may act at the species level but not at the Diptera family level nor at the whole of the predator level. Clear differences were observed in the spatial structure of the edaphic macroarthropod community in relation to the quantity of litter. This could mean that in an evaluation of the role of edaphic Arthropoda in the decomposition process in forests, certain factors of heterogeneity within the ecosystem must be taken into account.

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