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Effects of summer rainfall manipulations on the abundance and vertical distribution of herbivorous soil macro-invertebrates

By J. T. Staley, C. J. Hodgson, S. R. Mortimer, M. D. Morecroft, G. J. Masters, V. K. Brown and M. E. Taylor


Soil invertebrate communities are likely to be highly vulnerable to low soil moisture, caused by a reduction in summer rainfall which is predicted for some regions under current climate change scenarios. However, the effects of changes in summer rainfall on soil invertebrate assemblages have rarely been tested experimentally. In this study, samples were taken in 2003 and 2004 from a long-running field experiment, to investigate the impact of 10 years of experimental summer drought and increased summer rainfall manipulations on the soil fauna of a calcareous grassland. Summer drought altered the soil invertebrate assemblage in the autumn, immediately following treatment application, but by the following spring treatment effects were no longer apparent. The two most common root herbivore species responded differently to the summer rainfall manipulations. Larvae of the dominant root-chewing species, Agriotes lineatus, were more numerous under enhanced rainfall in both the spring and autumn. In contrast, abundance of the Coccoidea Lecanopsis formicarum was unaffected by the rainfall manipulations. The responses of root herbivores to an increased incidence of summer droughts are therefore likely to vary, depending on their feeding strategy and life history. (c) 2007 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved

Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.ejsobi.2007.02.010
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