Dietary switching of collembola in grassland soil food webs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Soil food webs are characterised by complex direct and indirect effects among the organisms. Consumption of microorganisms by soil animals is considered as an important factor that contributes to the stability of communities, though cascading effects within the food web can be difficult to detect. In a greenhouse experiment, an addition of a high number the fungal feeding collembola Folsomia quadrioculata was applied to grassland soil food webs in monocultures of three plant species: Plantago lanceolato (forb), Lotus corniculatus (legume) and Holcus lanatus (grass). The abundance of microorganisms, determined as the abundances of phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) and the abundances of resident invertebrates, nematodes and collembolans, did not change due to the addition of E quadrioculata. Trophic positions of collembolans were determined by analyses of natural abundances of N-15 stable isotopes. The use of food resources by microorganisms and collembolans was determined by C-13 analysis of microbial PLFAs and solid samples of collembolans. delta C-13 values of the resident collembola Folsomia fimetaria were lower in the presence of E quadrioculata than in the control food webs indicating a use of more depleted C-13 food resources by E fimetaria. The delta N-15 values of E fimetaria did not change at the addition of E quadrioculata thus no change of trophic levels was detected. The switch of E fimetaria to a different food resource could be due to indirect interactions in the food web as the two collembolan species were positioned on different trophic positions, according to different delta N-15 values. (c) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology


  • Trophic interactions, Soil communities, PLFA, Stable isotope, Perturbation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2898-2903
JournalSoil Biology & Biochemistry
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch