Effects of soil core handling, transport and storage on numbers and body sizes of edaphic predatory mites (Gamasina)
Keywords:Biodiversity, extraction, sampling, soil fauna, soil microarthropods
In recent years, a number of collaborative projects began to collect consistent data on soil animal communities with the aim to understand, model, and map edaphic biodiversity, and to support environmental planning and decision making. Especially when operating on an international scale, it is vital for these programs to develop standardized protocols for properly sampling and processing soil cores. While guidelines for sampling, extracting, identifying and enumerating animals from soils have been published, the influence of transport and storage conditions on the recovery of animals has received very little attention. In this paper, the effects of improper treatment of cores on the extraction efficiency of predatory mites (Gamasina) from a temperate deciduous forest soil are investigated. Neither prolonged storage, shaking, compression or any of two combination treatments (compression + prolonged storage; shaking + prolonged storage) exerted a significant influence on the total abundance or the body size distributions of the mites. In contrast, both warming over 25°C and overfilling the sample containers of the Tullgren extractor significantly and drastically reduced the recovery of the animals, irrespective of body size. In conclusion, while the total (group) abundance of gamasid mites seems to be rather insensitive against improper sample treatment, the temperature of cores during transport and storage and a suitable volume of material in the extractor containers need to be adressed when planning the logistics of large scale sampling campaigns. Further studies on this topic are encouraged that also include other animal groups, other climate zones, and preferrably work on the level of species.
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