Microarthropod densities within late-successional coniferous forests thinned 16–41 yr before sampling were compared with adjacent unthinned stands to identify longer term effects of thinning on this community. Soil and forest floor layers were sampled separately on eight paired sites. Within the forest floor oribatid, mesostigmatid, and to a marginal extent, prostigmatid mites, were reduced in thinned stands compared with unthinned stands. No differences were found for Collembola in the forest floor or for any mite suborder within the soil. Family level examination of mesostigmatid and prostigmatid mites revealed significant differences between stand types for both horizons. At the species level, thinning influenced numerous oribatid mites and Collembola. For oribatid mites, significant or marginally significant differences were found for seven of 15 common species in the forest floor and five of 16 common species in soil. Collembola were affected less, with differences found for one of 11 common species in the forest floor and three of 13 common species in soil. Multivariate analysis of variance and ordination indicated that forest thinning had little influence on the composition of oribatid mite and collembolan communities within either the forest floor or soil. Differences in microclimate or in the accumulation of organic matter on the forest floor were likely most responsible for the observed patterns of abundance. Considering the role that microarthropods play in nutrient cycling, determining the functional response of a wide range of taxa to thinning may be important to effective ecosystem management.
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