Oribatid mites are a characteristic element of soil fauna, but they are also found in decomposing wood. However, they are often absent from publications dealing with dead wood. A core question of our study was how much the mite fauna differs between dead wood and the forest floor and at different locations on dead wood. Three dead, fallen beech logs (in the third stage of decay) in the “Góra Chełm” Reserve (Jura Krakowsko-Czçstochowska, Silesian province, south Poland) were examined for log-inhabiting species of mites. Samples were collected at seven microhabitats from the logs and the ground surface adjacent to each log was also sampled. Forty-nine oribatid species (44%) were obligate members of the intra-log community. Our study revealed strong differentiation between oribatid fauna in different microhabitats of decaying logs. No statistically significant differences in oribatid communities in beech logs of the same stage of decay were observed. It may be concluded that oribatid mites are using logs as a separate habitat rather than as an extension of the forest floor.
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