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Correction published on 27 September 2017, see Forests 2017, 8(10), 366.

Open AccessArticle
Forests 2017, 8(3), 85;

Tree Species Identity Shapes Earthworm Communities

Department of Applied Biosciences, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Valentin Vaerwyckweg 1, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Forest & Nature Lab, Department of Forest and Water Management, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Geraardsbergsesteenweg 267, 9090 Gontrode, Belgium
Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 23, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
Division of Forest, Nature and Landscape, Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200 E, Box 2411, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
Faculty of Science and Technology, University College Ghent, Brusselsesteenweg 161, 9090 Melle, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 25 January 2017 / Revised: 10 March 2017 / Accepted: 13 March 2017 / Published: 17 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tree Species, as Major Drivers of Forest Ecosystems Functioning)
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Earthworms are key organisms in forest ecosystems because they incorporate organic material into the soil and affect the activity of other soil organisms. Here, we investigated how tree species affect earthworm communities via litter and soil characteristics. In a 36-year old common garden experiment, replicated six times over Denmark, six tree species were planted in blocks: sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), beech (Fagus sylvatica), ash (Fraxinus excelsior), Norway spruce (Picea abies), pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) and lime (Tilia cordata). We studied the chemical characteristics of soil and foliar litter, and determined the forest floor turnover rate and the density and biomass of the earthworm species occurring in the stands. Tree species significantly affected earthworm communities via leaf litter and/or soil characteristics. Anecic earthworms were abundant under Fraxinus, Acer and Tilia, which is related to calcium-rich litter and low soil acidification. Epigeic earthworms were indifferent to calcium content in leaf litter and were shown to be mainly related to soil moisture content and litter C:P ratios. Almost no earthworms were found in Picea stands, likely because of the combined effects of recalcitrant litter, low pH and low soil moisture content. View Full-Text
Keywords: biogeochemistry; litter quality; soil fauna; soil acidification; plant–soil interactions; biological indicator of soil quality; Oligochaeta biogeochemistry; litter quality; soil fauna; soil acidification; plant–soil interactions; biological indicator of soil quality; Oligochaeta

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Schelfhout, S.; Mertens, J.; Verheyen, K.; Vesterdal, L.; Baeten, L.; Muys, B.; De Schrijver, A. Tree Species Identity Shapes Earthworm Communities. Forests 2017, 8, 85.

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