Soil foodweb responses to vegetation changes in an alpine meadow-to-shrub transition system
Earthworms are important macrodecomposers and engineers on alpine pastureland. They obviously affect decomposition and soil physical properties through digestion and bioturbation. Casts, burrows and the earthworm gut itself are favourable habitats for a diverse set of microorganisms which are active in the depolymerization and fermentative breakdown of organic material and contribute to the nutrition of soil invertebrates. However, there is little explicit knowledge about the structural and functional microbial composition of these habits and the complexity of the processes which regulate the interactions of microbes and soil invertebrates.
The rationale of this study is to improve the fundamental understanding of diversity-function relationships in decomposition processes under changing conditions at the alpine treeline.
in cooperation with A. Univ. Prof Dr. Erwin Meyer, Department of Ecology
Mountain Agriculture Research Unit
FWF project link