Trait-mediated responses to aridity and experimental drought by springtail communities across Europe

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  • Miquel Ferrín
  • Laura Márquez
  • Henning Petersen
  • Sandrine Salmon
  • Jean François Ponge
  • Miquel Arnedo
  • Bridget Emmett
  • Beier, Claus
  • Schmidt, Inger Kappel
  • Albert Tietema
  • Paolo de Angelis
  • Dario Liberati
  • Edit Kovács-Láng
  • György Kröel-Dulay
  • Marc Estiarte
  • Mireia Bartrons
  • Josep Peñuelas
  • Guille Peguero

The capacity to forecast the effects of climate change on biodiversity largely relies on identifying traits capturing mechanistic relationships with the environment through standardized field experiments distributed across relevant spatial scales. The effects of short-term experimental manipulations on local communities may overlap with regional climate gradients that have been operating during longer time periods. However, to the best of our knowledge, there are no studies simultaneously assessing such long-term macroecological drivers with local climate manipulations. We analysed this issue with springtails (Class Collembola), one of the dominant soil fauna groups, in a standardized climate manipulation experiment conducted across six European countries encompassing broad climate gradients. We combined community data (near 20K specimens classified into 102 species) with 22 eco-morphological traits and reconstructed their phylogenetic relationships to track the evolution of adaptations to live at different soil depths, which is key to cope with desiccation. We then applied joint species distribution models to investigate the combined effect of the regional aridity gradient with the local experimental treatment (drought and warming) over the assembly of springtail communities and tested for significant trait–environment relationships mediating their community-level responses. Our results show (1) a convergent evolution in all three major collembolan lineages of species adapted to inhabit at different soil strata; (2) a clear signature of aridity selecting traits of more epigeic species at a biogeographical scale and (3) the association of short-term experimental drought with traits related to more euedaphic life-forms. The hemiedaphic condition would be the plesiomorphic state for Collembola while the adaptations for an epigeic life would have been secondarily gained. Epigeic springtails are not only more resistant to drought, but also have a higher dispersal capacity that allows them to seek more favourable micro-habitats after experiencing drier conditions. The observed relative edaphization of the springtail communities after short-term experimental drought may thus be a transient community response. The disparity between macroecological trends and fast community-level responses after climate manipulations highlights the need of simultaneously assessing long-term and short-term drivers at broad spatial scales to adequately interpret trait–environment relationships and better forecast biodiversity responses to climate change. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFunctional Ecology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)44-56
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
All authors thank the efforts of the many people who helped with the fieldwork during the VULCAN‐INCREASE projects. The present study received the financial support from the European Research Council through the Synergy grant ERC‐SyG‐2013‐610028 IMBALANCE‐P, the Spanish Government grant PID2019‐110521GB‐I00, the Fundación Ramón Areces grant ELEMENTAL‐CLIMATE and the Catalan Government grant SGR 2017‐1005. M.F is supported by an FPI grant from the Spanish Government.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 British Ecological Society.

    Research areas

  • climate change, collembola, functional biogeography, joint species distribution models, shrublands, soil fauna

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