EGU22-58, updated on 25 Mar 2022
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

High consistency of trophic niches in soil microarthropod species (Oribatida, Acari) across soil depth and forest type

Jingzhong Lu1 and Stefan Scheu1,2
Jingzhong Lu and Stefan Scheu
  • 1Johann-Friedrich-Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and Anthropology, University of Göttingen, Germany
  • 2Center of Biodiversity and Sustainable Land Use, Universität Göttingen, Germany

Generalist species vary in resource use with environments. High intraspecific variation in resource use may hamper trophic niche differentiation and coexistence of microarthropod species. To better understand intraspecific niche variation, we quantified stable isotope ratios of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) within and between populations of 40 Oribatida species (Acari) that co-occur in litter (OL) and soil (0–5 cm, mainly OF/H, AH) of five forest types (native European beech, non-native Douglas fir, range-expanding Norway spruce, two beech–conifer mixed forests). Although stable isotope signature of bulk material differed between litter and soil, δ13C and δ15N values of Oribatida species were remarkably stable irrespective of soil depth. Furthermore, Oribatida were more enriched in 13C in European beech than in coniferous forests, but δ15N values of Oribatida were similar across forest types. We conclude that trophic position (δ15N values) of Oribatida species is highly consistent across forest type, and that Oribatida species occupy virtually identical trophic niches (δ13C and δ15N values) irrespective of the soil depth they colonize. Despite that stable isotope analysis cannot reveal what animals actually feed on, our results suggest that low intraspecific variability facilitates niche differentiation and coexistence of Oribatida species. Overall, the results indicate that generalist species of soil microarthropods may be highly consistent in their resource use irrespective of environments. 

How to cite: Lu, J. and Scheu, S.: High consistency of trophic niches in soil microarthropod species (Oribatida, Acari) across soil depth and forest type, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-58,, 2022.

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