Fast attrition of springtail communities by experimental drought and richness–decomposition relationships across Europe

Guille Peguero, Daniel Sol, Miquel Arnedo, Henning Petersen, Sandrine Salmon, Jean François Ponge, Joan Maspons, Bridget Emmett, Claus Beier, Inger K. Schmidt, Albert Tietema, Paolo De Angelis, Edit Kovács-Láng, György Kröel-Dulay, Marc Estiarte, Mireia Bartrons, Martin Holmstrup, Ivan A. Janssens, Josep Peñuelas

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd Soil fauna play a fundamental role on key ecosystem functions like organic matter decomposition, although how local assemblages are responding to climate change and whether these changes may have consequences to ecosystem functioning is less clear. Previous studies have revealed that a continued environmental stress may result in poorer communities by filtering out the most sensitive species. However, these experiments have rarely been applied to climate change factors combining multiyear and multisite standardized field treatments across climatically contrasting regions, which has limited drawing general conclusions. Moreover, other facets of biodiversity, such as functional and phylogenetic diversity, potentially more closely linked to ecosystem functioning, have been largely neglected. Here, we report that the abundance, species richness, phylogenetic diversity, and functional richness of springtails (Subclass Collembola), a major group of fungivores and detritivores, decreased within 4 years of experimental drought across six European shrublands. The loss of phylogenetic and functional richness was higher than expected by the loss of species richness, leading to communities of phylogenetically similar species sharing evolutionary conserved traits. Additionally, despite the great climatic differences among study sites, we found that taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional richness of springtail communities alone were able to explain up to 30% of the variation in annual decomposition rates. Altogether, our results suggest that the forecasted reductions in precipitation associated with climate change may erode springtail communities and likely other drought-sensitive soil invertebrates, thereby retarding litter decomposition and nutrient cycling in ecosystems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2727-2738
    JournalGlobal Change Biology
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


    • Collembola
    • biodiversity-ecosystem functioning
    • climate change
    • drought
    • litter decomposition
    • shrublands
    • soil fauna


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