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Traits or species – space or environment

how to understand the spatial structure of springtail community composition

Widenfalk, Lina A. (2014). Traits or species – space or environment. Uppsala : Sveriges lantbruksuniv.
ISBN 978-91-576-9252-8
eISBN 978-91-576-9253-5
[Licentiate thesis]

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How communities are structured and the processes shaping species composition are among the basic questions in ecology. Knowledge about these processes is essential to predict changes in community composition in response to changes in for example climate or land use practices. Soil communities are considered to be both remarkably species-rich and to have many generalist species with seemingly similar niche requirements. Soil fauna composition shows a large variation even at small spatial scales and both local environment and spatial configuration of habitats are regarded as important forces shaping the community composition. In this thesis, I examine the factors influencing small-scale community composition of springtails (Collembola) in two habitats, a variable and dynamic salt marsh and a more stable mature pine forest.

The functional traits of species determine both their responses to the environment and their effects on ecosystem processes. The current knowledge on environment - species - traits relationship is limited in spite of its potential importance for ecosystem function. I show that by combining perspectives from two closely linked theoretical frameworks – metacommunity ecology and community assembly theory – we get a better understanding of the important ecological factors operating in this system.

I found that the factors influencing community composition was context dependent, but in a predictable way. In the environmentally variable habitat, salt marsh, with spatial and temporal heterogeneity, there was evidence of strong environmental filtering. Small-scale topography was the strongest predictor of community composition, likely due to disturbances restricting where habitat-generalists can persist. In contrast, in the more stable habitat, mature pine forest, environmental filtering appeared weaker and biotic interactions seemed to have a stronger impact. Coexisting species were more similar in traits related to resource utilisation and sensory ability than expected, and variation in species composition was explained mainly by spatial factors like the distance between samples, i.e. each local community seemed to depend on the composition of the surrounding communities.

Authors/Creators:Widenfalk, Lina A.
Title:Traits or species – space or environment
Subtitle:how to understand the spatial structure of springtail community composition
Year of publishing :23 September 2014
Number of Pages:51
I.Widenfalk L.A., Bengtsson J., Berggren Å., Zwiggelaar K., Spijkman E., Huyer-Brugman F., Berg M.P. Environmental filtering of soil fauna traits in a late successional salt marsh vegetation (submitted to Oecologia).
II.Widenfalk L.A., Malmström A., Berg M.P., Bengtsson J. Small-scale Collembola community composition in a pine forest described by spatial configuration and functional traits (manuscript).
Place of Publication:Uppsala
Publisher:Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
ISBN for printed version:978-91-576-9252-8
ISBN for electronic version:978-91-576-9253-5
Publication Type:Licentiate thesis
Full Text Status:Public
Agris subject categories.:P Natural resources > P34 Soil biology
X Agricola extesions > X30 Life sciences
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
Agrovoc terms:collembola, biodiversity, soil fauna, habitats, forest soils, marshland soils, species, dimensions, biological properties, environmental factors
Keywords:Collembola, community assembly, diversity pattern, functional traits, soil fauna, environmental filter, species interaction, variance partitioning, disturbance regime
Permanent URL:
ID Code:11606
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Ecology
(S) > Dept. of Ecology
Deposited By: Lina A. Widenfalk
Deposited On:21 Oct 2014 11:20
Metadata Last Modified:02 Dec 2014 11:09

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