Skip to Main Content
Earthworms, arthropods and plant litter decomposition in aspen (Populus tremuloides) and lodgepole pine(Pinus contorta) forests in Colorado, USAAuthor(s): Grizelle Gonzalez; Timothy R. Seastedt; Zugeily Donato
Source: Pedobiologia 47, 863–869,
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: International Institute of Tropical Forestry
PDF: View PDF (263 B)
DescriptionWe compared the abundance and community composition of earthworms, soil macroarthropods, and litter microarthropods to test faunal effects on plant litter decomposition rates in two forests in the subalpine in Colorado, USA. Litterbags containing recently senesced litter of Populus tremuloides (aspen) and Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine) were placed in aspen and pine forests to monitor their decay rates and quantify litter microarthropod abundance. Earthworms and macroarthropods were collected by hand from the soil. Three species of earthworms were found in the aspen forest: Octolasion cyaneum, an anecic worm; Dendrobaena octaedra, an epigeic worm and Aporrectodea trapezoides, an endogeic worm.We found a higher density and fresh biomass of earthworms in the aspen (40 worms m–2 and 4.4 g m–2) than in the pine forest (0.8 worms m–2 and 0.6 g m–2). The lodgepole pine contained only earthworm species, D. octaedra. Macroarthropod density did not differ between the forests. Total density of microarthropods in the aspen and lodgepole pine forests was 6.40 and 5.24 individuals g–1 of dry litter, respectively and did not significantly differ between forests. The percent of mass remaining was different between litter species (r2 = 0.73, P < 0.01). Aspen litter decayed significantly faster than pine regardless of location. The percent of mass remaining of aspen and lodgepole pine were significantly correlatedwith the density of earthworms in both forests (P < 0.01). In the pine forests, the percent mass remaining of aspen and lodgepole pine litter was also significantly correlated with the density of mites (Acarina) (P = 0.03), prostigmatid mites (P = 0.02) and the total abundance of litter fauna (P = 0.02). Our results suggest that introduced earthworms play an important role on litter decomposition in the aspen forest, and that litter decomposition in these subalpine sites might be influenceddifferentially by various groups of soil and litter fauna.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationGonzalez, Grizelle; Seastedt, Timothy R.; Donato, Zugeily. 2003. Earthworms, arthropods and plant litter decomposition in aspen (Populus tremuloides) and lodgepole pine(Pinus contorta) forests in Colorado, USA. Pedobiologia 47. 863–869,
KeywordsDecomposition, aspen, lodgepole pine, earthworms, microarthropods, subalpine forest
- Effects of stand structure, browsing, and biophysical conditions on regeneration following mountain pine beetle in mixed lodgepole pine and aspen forests of the southern Rockies
- The effects of bark beetle outbreaks on forest development, fuel loads and potential fire behavior in salvage logged and untreated lodgepole pine forests
- Association of Pinus banksiana Lamb. and Populus tremuloides Michx. seedling fine roots with Sistotrema brinkmannii (Bres.) J. Erikss. (Basidiomycotina)
XML: View XML