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Succession, Diversity and Trophic Relationships of Some Soil Animals in Decomposing Leaf Litter

J. M. Anderson
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 44, No. 2 (Jun., 1975), pp. 475-495
DOI: 10.2307/3607
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3607
Page Count: 21
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Succession, Diversity and Trophic Relationships of Some Soil Animals in Decomposing Leaf Litter
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Abstract

(1) The successional development of soil animal communities associated with beech and chestnut leaves was studied over a 20-month period by use of litter bags. (2) Representatives of most groups of soil animals colonized the bags within the first few weeks in the field; no species could be recognized as pioneers. (3) The soil animal populations were qualitatively and quantitatively similar in the two series of litter bags despite marked differences in the decomposition rates of the two leaf species. Evidence suggested that the soil animal populations in the bags were governed by non-nutritional properties of the litter. (4) Succession of Crytostigmata (Acari) in the leaf litter was demonstrated but the 12 most abundant species were present in the bags throughout the study and showed marked changes in their feeding habits with time. (5) Despite the generalized feeding habits of the mites there is evidence of trophic separation of Cryptostigmata species according to their body size. (6) It is concluded that these mites have an excess of food resources available to them but may withdraw to feeding refuges during unfavourable environmental conditions.

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