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Trophic structure of a macroarthropod litter food web in managed coniferous forest stands: a stable isotope analysis with 15N and 13C



Trophic structure of a macroarthropod litter food web in managed coniferous forest stands: a stable isotope analysis with 15N and 13C



Pedobiologia, 492: 109-118



We studied the composition of a litter detrital. community in a temperate coniferous forest using stable isotopes of nitrogen and carbon. Samples of mineral soil, bulk Litter material, macroarthropods and understory plants were collected from ten experimental. forest stands. Half of the stands were previously thinned 17-42 years ago, the other half served as controls. Values of delta 15N and delta 13C were based on the analysis of almost 500 individuals of at Least 22 species in 11 arthropod families. The isotopic analysis showed a significant increase in delta 15N and delta 13C values with soil depth. Isotopic signatures of macroarthropods ranged from -26.51 per mill to -20.52 per mill for delta 13C and -2.85 per mill to 5.10 per mill for delta 15N. All consumers showed levels of delta 13C enrichment substantially higher than those of primary producers and Litter. Predators were generally significantly more 15N enriched than detritivores and herbivores, but their delta 13C levels were similar to those of primary consumers. Our data indicate that this community consists of at least 2-3 trophic levels with a considerable amount of variation in the 15N enrichment among detritivores and predators. We suggest that the spread of delta 15N values of predators likely reflects the diversity of potential. prey among detritivores and a varying degree of intraguild predation among different species. Our findings generally agree closely with the results of similar studies from other forest litter communities. Thinning did not appear to influence the overall, isotopic composition of the detrital. food web. Extensive omnivory and intraguild predation among Litter consumers may buffer long-term effects of thinning on the trophic structure of these species-rich communities.

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Accession: 024014242

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DOI: 10.1016/j.pedobi.2004.09.002



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