1 December 2014 Influence of Habitat Structure and Conditions in Floodplain Forests on Mollusc Assemblages
Heike Kappes , Dominik Kopeć , Anna Sulikowska-Drozd
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Alder floodplain forests are a rare and threatened forest type in Europe. These forests can be very rich in mollusc species. The intermediate disturbance hypothesis predicts that species richness should peak at intermediate inundation frequency, that is, at intermediate elevation above the river level. We additionally hypothesized that constantly high soil moisture can distort the usually positive correlation between the amounts of downed deadwood and snail richness, and that tree stems might be more favourable than deadwood because their vertical structure provides a better refuge during inundation events. To this end, we sampled molluscs from a core area of 20 × 20 m from eight alluvial forests with black alder in the surroundings of Łódź, Central Poland. In each core area, substrate was collected from eight random plots (0.25 m2 each). We also recorded soil pH, vascular plant species and mosses diversity, along with other structural variables. Plant indicator values were calculated according to Ellenberg. Soil quality (amongst others: soil pH, reactivity value, nutrient and moisture availability) decreased with increasing elevation above the river level. In the plot samples, we found a total of 18,497 individuals from 52 species. Mollusc species richness dropped stronger than densities with an increasing elevation above the river level. Main influences on mollusc richness and abundance originated from positive correlations with soil pH and moisture. An additional hand sampling campaign on tree stems and deadwood items in the core area revealed that coarse woody debris items on average carried twice as many individuals as did tree stems. Deadwood and tree stems supported similar numbers of snail species per item, but beta-diversity was higher on deadwood. Consequently, Jackknife 2 predicted that deadwood is utilized by about 46 species, whereas tree stems only support about 39 species. Our results indicate (1) that mollusc richness peaks at low elevations above normal water level in this type of forest, (2) that intact hydrological regimes are associated with high soil quality and mollusc biodiversity, and (3) suggest that coarse woody debris adds resources, refuges and a dispersal agent for the alder forest floor fauna.

Heike Kappes , Dominik Kopeć , and Anna Sulikowska-Drozd "Influence of Habitat Structure and Conditions in Floodplain Forests on Mollusc Assemblages," Polish Journal of Ecology 62(4), 739-750, (1 December 2014). https://doi.org/10.3161/104.062.0416
Published: 1 December 2014
Alnus glutinosa
flood pulse hypothesis
floodplain dynamics
habitat heterogeneity
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