Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 559027
Title Disturbance regulates the density–body mass relationship of soil fauna
Author(s) Langevelde, Frank van; Comor, Vincent; Bie, Steven de; Prins, Herbert H.T.; Thakur, Madhav P.
Source Ecological Applications 30 (2020)1. - ISSN 1051-0761
Department(s) PE&RC
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2020
Abstract Theory on the density‐body mass (DBM) relationship predicts that the density of animal species decreases by the power of −0.75 per unit increase in their body mass, or by the power of −1 when taxa across trophic levels are studied. This relationship is, however, largely debated as the slope often deviates from the theoretical predictions. Here, we tested the ability of the DBM relationship to reflect changes in the structure of communities subjected to an anthropogenic disturbance. The slope would become less steep if smaller animals were more impacted by the disturbance than the larger ones, whereas the slope would become steeper if larger animals were more affected than the smaller ones. We tested the changes in the DBM relationship by sampling soil fauna, i.e. nematodes, Collembola and larger arthropods, from a semi‐arid grassland before and after spraying diesel fuel as disturbance. We applied three different treatments: a control, a light disturbance and an intense disturbance. We found that the slopes of the DBM relationships before the disturbance were around −1 as predicted by theory. The slope became more positive (i.e. less steep) just after the disturbance, especially after the intense disturbance as smaller fauna suffered the most and early colonizers had larger body mass. Interestingly, we observed that the slopes converged back to −1 in two months post‐disturbance. Our findings show that the response of soil fauna communities to anthropogenic disturbances could explain the large variation in observed slopes of the DBM relationships. We experimentally demonstrate that an animal community, when disturbed, shows a temporal pattern of DBM relationships ranging from deviations from the predicted slope to convergence to the predicted slope with time. We recommend that deviations in the DBM relationships after disturbances can provide insights in the trajectory community recovery, and hence could be used for biomonitoring.
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