Skip to Main Content
Wood decomposition as influenced by invertebratesAuthor(s): Michael D. Ulyshen
Source: Biological Reviews
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Southern Research Station
Download Publication (585.42 KB)
DescriptionThe diversity and habitat requirements of invertebrates associated with dead wood have been the subjects of hundreds of studies in recent years but we still know very little about the ecological or economic importance of these organisms. The purpose of this review is to examine whether, how and to what extent invertebrates affect wood decomposition in terrestrial ecosystems. Three broad conclusions can be reached from the available literature. First, wood decomposition is largely driven by microbial activity but invertebrates also play a significant role in both temperate and tropical environments. Primary mechanisms include enzymatic digestion (involving both endogenous enzymes and those produced by endo- and ectosymbionts), substrate alteration (tunnelling and fragmentation), biotic interactions and nitrogen fertilization (i.e. promoting nitrogen fixation by endosymbiotic and free-living bacteria). Second, the effects of individual invertebrate taxa or functional groups can be accelerative or inhibitory but the cumulative effect of the entire community is generally to accelerate wood decomposition, at least during the early stages of the process (most studies are limited to the first 2–3 years). Although methodological differences and design limitations preclude meta-analysis, studies aimed at quantifying the contributions of invertebrates to wood decomposition commonly attribute 10–20% of wood loss to these organisms. Finally, some taxa appear to be particularly influential with respect to promoting wood decomposition. These include large wood-boring beetles (Coleoptera) and termites (Termitoidae), especially fungus-farmingmacrotermitines. The presence or absence of these species may be more consequential than species richness and the influence of invertebrates is likely to vary biogeographically.
- You may send email to email@example.com to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- 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.
CitationUlyshen, Michael D. 2014. Wood decomposition as influenced by invertebrates. Biological Reviews: n/a-n/a. 17 p. doi: 10.1111/brv.12158
Keywordsarthropods, biodiversity, ecosystem services, insects, Isoptera, saproxylic
- The Trophic Significance of Bacteria in a Detritus-Based Stream Food Web
- Bacterial associations with decaying wood : a review
- Effect of inorganic nutrients on relative contributions of fungi and bacteria to carbon flow from submerged decomposing leaf litter
XML: View XML