David J. Russell et al.

David J. Russell Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Görlitz,
Am Museum 1, 02826 Görlitz, Germany

Hans-Jürgen Schulz Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Görlitz,
Am Museum 1, 02826 Görlitz, Germany;

Karin Hohberg Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Görlitz,
Am Museum 1, 02826 Görlitz, Germany

Hardy Pfanz Lehrstuhl für Angewandte Botanik, University of Duisburg-Essen,
Univ.-Straße 5, 45117 Essen, Germany


Occurrence of collembolan fauna in mofette fields (natural carbondioxide springs) of the Czech Republic


Mofette fields are naturally occurring, cold, volcanic gas vents that emit geogenic CO2 through surface waters or the soil into the atmosphere. Soil CO2 concentrations can reach 100% in the centre of these fields. High ground-level CO2 concentrations can accumulate and become lethal traps, as evidenced by undecomposed vertebrate and invertebrate remains littering the areas. Nonetheless, plant growth is possible, and an adapted, partly azonal vegetation often occurs in mofette fields. The obvious impossibility of above-ground animal life in such fields led to the question of the occurrence of endogeic soil fauna, which are generally considered to be adapted to elevated soil CO2 concentrations. For this reason a series of small pilot studies were undertaken in mofette fields in the north-western Czech Republic to ascertain (1) whether Collembola occur at all at such high soil CO2 concentrations and (2) if so, does a specific collembolan fauna occur analogous to the mofettophilous vegetation of such habitats. Twelve collembolan species in, at times, substantial populations were found even at soil CO2 concentrations approaching 100%. It can be assumed that these species are at least temporarily able to survive the anaerobic conditions. At 20–40% CO2, 13 species were found and 23 species at ‘normal’ CO2 concentrations, so that species richness decreased with increasing soil CO2 concentration. The highest total densities were found at intermediate concentrations. Possibly azonal species (i.e. Tullbergia simplex, Folsomia hissarica) as well as a previously undescribed species (Folsomia mofettophila) were found only at high soil CO2 concentrations. Many species registered at normal soil CO2 concentrations were not found at higher concentrations. The registered species could thus be separated into mofettophilous, mofettotolerant and mofettoxenic species. Interestingly, males of otherwise parthenogenetic Mesaphorura species were regularly found at high soil CO2 concentrations.


Collembola, soil CO2, mofette fields, natural carbon-dioxide springs, extreme habitats