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Stability of the spatio-temporal distribution and niche overlap in neotropical earthworm assemblages

Abstract : The spatial distribution of soil invertebrates is aggregated with high-density patches alternating with low-density zones. A high degree of spatio-temporal organization generally exists with identified patches of specific species assemblages, in which species coexist according to assembly rules related to competitive mechanisms for spatial and trophic resources occur. However, these issues have seldom been addressed. The spatio-temporal structure of a native earthworm community in a natural savanna and a grass–legume pasture in the Colombian “Llanos” was studied during a 2-year-period. A spatially explicit sampling design (regular grid) was used to discern the distribution pattern of species assemblages in both systems. Earthworms were collected from small soil pits at three different sampling dates. Data collected from 1 m2 soil monoliths were also used in the present study. Data were analyzed with the partial triadic analysis (PTA) and correlograms, while niche overlap was computed with the Pianka index. The PTA and correlogram analysis revealed that earthworm communities displayed a similar stable spatial structure in both systems during the 2-year study period. An alternation of population patches where different species' assemblages dominated was common to all sampling dates. The medium-sized Andiodrilus sp. and Glossodrilus sp. exhibited a clear spatial opposition in natural savanna and the grass–legume pasture for the duration of the study. The Pianka index showed a high degree of niche overlapping in several dimensions (vertical distribution, seasonality of population density) between both species. The inclusion of space-time data analysis tools as the PTA and the use of classical ecological indices (Pianka) in soil ecology studies may improve our knowledge of earthworm assemblages' dynamics
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Juan-José Jiménez, Thibaud Decaëns, Jean-Pierre Rossi. Stability of the spatio-temporal distribution and niche overlap in neotropical earthworm assemblages. Acta Oecologica, Elsevier, 2006, 30 (3), pp.299-311. ⟨10.1016/j.actao.2006.06.008⟩. ⟨hal-02655546⟩



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