Translocation of surface litter carbon into soil by Collembola

Chamberlain, Paul; McNamara, Niall ORCID:; Chaplow, Jacky ORCID:; Stott, Andrew W.; Black, Helaina I. J.. 2006 Translocation of surface litter carbon into soil by Collembola. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 38 (9). 2655-2664.

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Soil invertebrates are important in nutrient cycling in soils, but the degree to which mesofauna such as Collembola are responsible for the direct movement of carbon (C) from the litter layer into soil has not yet been ascertained. We used naturally occurring stable C isotopic differences between a C4 soil and alder leaves (C3) to examine the effect of the collembolan Folsomia candida on C translocation into soil in laboratory microcosms. Collembolan numbers greatly increased in the presence of alder, but despite large collembolan populations there were no changes in decomposition rate (measured as litter mass loss, cumulative respired CO2 and alder C:N ratios). Small changes in the δ13C values of bulk soil organic matter were detected, but could not be assigned to collembolan activity. However, mean δ13C values of soil microbial phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) were significantly lower in the presence of alder and Collembola together, demonstrating that collembolan activities resulted in greater availability of litter-derived C to the soil microbial community. Additionally, the presence of Collembola resulted in the translocation of alder-derived compounds (chlorophyll and its breakdown product pheophytin) into soil, demonstrating that Collembola modify soil organic matter at the molecular level. These results are consistent with deposition of collembolan faeces in underlying soil and demonstrate that despite their small size, Collembola contribute directly to C transport in the litter-soil environment

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biogeochemistry
CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: _ Environmental Chemistry & Pollution
_ Ecological Processes & Modelling
Additional Keywords: Decomposition, Collembola, Plant pigments, PLFA, Stable isotopes
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 02 Jul 2007 13:10 +0 (UTC)

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