A3 The soil animal community as indicator of changes in the structure and functioning of Andean ecosystems with altitude and nutrient input. [funded by dfg]


PI(s) for this project:


Prof. Dr. Stefan Scheu

Abstract:

The proposed project investigates the response of the decomposer system to major climate change factors i.e., increased temperature (as represented by altitude) and nutrient inputs (N and P) of Andean forest ecosystems in the framework of the NUMEX experiment. The project focuses on major players of decomposition processes i.e., microorganisms (as analysed by phospholipid fatty acid patterns) and representative taxa of decomposer invertebrates: testate amoebae ("Testacea"), nematodes (Nematoda) and oribatid mites (Oribtida). The selected taxa represent major soil food web components i.e., microorganisms as major primary decomposers, testate amoebae and bacterial feeding nematodes as major representatives of the bacterial energy channel and fungal feeding nematodes and oribatid mites as major representatives of the fungal energy channel. Each of these groups responds sensitively to environmental changes and represent powerful bioindicators. The project aims at evaluating the use of bioindicators for the investigated climate change factors in Andean ecosystems. It is hypothesized that microorganisms, oribatid mites and nematodes sensitively and differentially respond to climate change factors allowing to identify indicators representative for large regions of Ecuador and the Andes in general. Further, molecular analysis of focal taxa of the selected soil animal groups target at understanding changes in animal diversity along altitudinal gradients of the study sites and along worldwide latitudinal gradients allowing deeper understanding of the evolution of the diversity of soil animals in tropical ecosystems.

Description:

The proposed project investigates the response of the decomposer system to major climate change factors i.e., increased temperature (as represented by altitude) and nutrient inputs (N and P) of Andean forest ecosystems in the framework of the NUMEX experiment. The project focuses on major players of decomposition processes i.e., microorganisms (as analysed by phospholipid fatty acid patterns) and representative taxa of decomposer invertebrates: testate amoebae ("Testacea"), nematodes (Nematoda) and oribatid mites (Oribtida). The selected taxa represent major soil food web components i.e., microorganisms as major primary decomposers, testate amoebae and bacterial feeding nematodes as major representatives of the bacterial energy channel and fungal feeding nematodes and oribatid mites as major representatives of the fungal energy channel. Each of these groups responds sensitively to environmental changes and represent powerful bioindicators. The project aims at evaluating the use of bioindicators for the investigated climate change factors in Andean ecosystems. It is hypothesized that microorganisms, oribatid mites and nematodes sensitively and differentially respond to climate change factors allowing to identify indicators representative for large regions of Ecuador and the Andes in general. Further, molecular analysis of focal taxa of the selected soil animal groups target at understanding changes in animal diversity along altitudinal gradients of the study sites and along worldwide latitudinal gradients allowing deeper understanding of the evolution of the diversity of soil animals in tropical ecosystems.


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