Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Görlitz

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Functional adaptation of saprophagous soil animals to climate change

G. margianta & O. sabulosusWith the research project „Forest of the Future” of the LOEWE research centre “Biodiversity and Climate” (BiK-F), the effects of southern European oak species on central European soil fauna and the decomposition processes they drive are being investigated. The existing oak forests in the Rhine Valley of southern Hesse are confronted with heavy losses due to increasing drought. Therefore, the potential of drought-resistant southern European oak species as future forest trees for Central Europe is being evaluated. Accompanying research is investigating the effects the litter of these oak species (Quercus ilex, Q. frainetto and Q. pubescens) could have on central European soil-animal communities and their functions. A long-term monitoring programme is documenting possible changes on existing litter decomposer communities. Laboratory preference and metabolic studies are examining the ability of the most important primary litter “fragmenters” to ingest and assimilate the litter of these oak species in comparison to domestic tree species (Q. robur, Fagus sylvatica). Litter-bag experiments are measuring the decomposition rates and vectors of the litter from the same domestic and foreign tree species in the field.

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