SP08c Litter layer as microhabitats: how is species diversity determined? (sp08c litter as habitat)

Litter layer is an important issue when we want to study biodiversity in a forest ecosystem as a whole. It connects community components above and below ground and is closely related to many different ecological processes and functions in forest ecosystems. As part of the joint project and in cooperation with the German twin subproject, we plan to use haystick traps, litter bags, pitfall traps and soil extractions after Kempson in order to capture many macrofauna groups and species on the Comparative Study Plots and on the Experimental plots (both during baseline study and after the planting of the trees and shrubs). The mentioned methods will help to investigate mainly the following groups of the soil macrofauna: Isopoda, Lumbricidae, Diplopoda, Isoptera (predominantly as decomposers), Staphylinidae, Carabidae, Araneida, Opilionida, and Pseudoscorpionida (predominantly as predators) and both Blattodea and epigeic Orthoptera. Most of these taxa are relatively well studied, and we have taxonomists concerned with these groups in China. Therefore the identification will be not a great problem. However, there are two exceptions: the groups of rove and ground beetles. The first family (Staphylinidae) is perhaps the species-richest one of the order of Coleoptera, which is again the species-richest order of the animal kingdom. As an expert with a long lasting experience in identifying and describing taxa from this family I am sure that we will find a lot of new species. Therefore, the taxonomical approach of this subproject will focus on this family. Despite the fact that this is a taxonomic approach it deals in a rigorous way with the main topics of the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) experiment: Is associated biodiversity related to tree and shrub diversity in forests? Only the work on species-rich taxa is able to contribute in a substantial way to this question. In addition, we will also focus on the following questions (together with the German twin subproject): which factors determine the litter layer species diversity? We know that litter layers increase during woodland succession. Field experiments will be designed to test whether litter layer itself (thickness, stage of decomposition, etc.), or plant composition, diversity and coverage aboveground, or these joint parameters, are the main factors in determining species diversity and community compositions in the litter layer. Especially the identification or, respectively, the supervision of the determination of soil animal species (exceptions: lumbricids, isopods, diplopods, chilopods and carabids) will be my contribution. These approaches are closely related to the other subprojects (both Chinese and European) dealing with carbon storage, carbon and nitrogen cycles as well as to those on soil erosion and the development of soil parameters.