Canadian Forest Service Publications

Influence of stand composition on predatory mite (Mesostigmata) assemblages from the forest floor in western Canadian boreal mixedwood forests. 2013. Díaz-Aguilar, I.; Quideau, S.A.; Proctor, H.C.; Kishchuk, B.E.; Spence, J.R. Forest Ecology and Management 309:105-114.

Year: 2013

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35608

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2013.03.029

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Mesostigmatan mites dwelling in forest floors are the least abundant of soil mesofauna, however, they play an important role by regulating population sizes of other microarthropods. In this study, we evaluate the impact of stand type on the structure and community composition of predator mites from the Mesostigmata order in forest floors from undisturbed deciduous stands dominated by Populus tremuloides, coniferous stands dominated by Picea glauca, and mixed stands in the western Canadian boreal forest. We observed differences in species richness, dominance and community composition among the stand types. Coniferous and mixed stands had higher mesostigmatan species richness than deciduous stands. Coniferous stands had a different community composition than deciduous and mixed stands, indicating the importance of coniferous trees in structuring mesostigmatan assemblages. Although forest floor pH varied within a narrow range, it was important in explaining variations in mesostigmatid community composition. Mesostigmatan assemblages were also distinguished according to forest floor thickness, probably reflecting species-specific habitat preferences within accumulated litter. Maintaining coniferous trees will be necessary for conserving the natural patterns of mesostigmatan mites in western Canadian boreal mixedwood forests.

Plain Language Summary

This research examined a group of soil organisms, soil mites, which play roles in controlling numbers of other soil organisms, and the turnover of nutrients from decaying plant material in the upper forest soil (the forest floor). The identity and number of mites were investigated in three dominant tree cover types in the western boreal mixedwood forest. These cover types reflect the successional pathway of these forests, and are subject to different forest management regimes. The first objective of the work was to determine the relationship between dominant tree cover types (deciduous, coniferous, and a mixture of the two) and the mite populations. The second objective was to determine the influence of forest floor properties on the soil mite populations, where distinct forest floor properties are associated with each tree cover type. Stands containing coniferous trees (coniferous and mixed stands) had more positive attributes for mite populations than deciduous stands. These results demonstrate a direct relationship between soil mites and their habitat, and the results show that forest management should consider differences in soil organisms under the different cover types in these forests.