Effect of land-use changes on the soil macrofauna community

Michael Steinwandter, Julia Seeber

Soil invertebrates play a crucial role in maintaining ecosystem functioning by mediating important ecosystem processes such as litter decomposition, nutrient (especially carbon) cycles, water infiltration and storage in soil (Hågvar 1998). Changes in their structural composition will therefore have considerable impacts on the function and stability of alpine ecosystems. Studies from 2002 have shown that the soil community becomes more diverse after abandonment, however, due to the retreat of large-bodied earthworms, its process effort decreases (Seeber et al. 2005, 2006). Abandoned sites sampled in 2002 had been taken out of management for 10-15 years, the soil community now has had ten more years to adapt to the changed conditions. By comparing data from managed, 10-15 year-old and 20-25 year-old abandoned sites we will be able to draw statistically better verified conclusions on how abandonment affects the soil community composition. This will be an important basis for further studies on the effect of land-use changes on the function and stability of alpine ecosystems.

Funding: Berglandwirtschaft (University of Innsbruck), FFG Talente Praktika

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Makrofauna land-use