Vorobeichik Е.L., Ermakov А.I., Zolotarev M.P., Tuneva T.К. 2012. [Changes in diversity of soil macrofauna in industrial pollution gradient] // Russian Entomol. J. Vol.21. No.2: 203–218 [in Russian, with English summary].

Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Vos’mogo Marta Str., 202, Yekaterinburg, 620144, Russia. E-mail: ev@ipae.uran.ru

KEY WORDS: Soil macrofauna, invertebrates, Lumbricidae, Myriapoda, Arachnida, Elateridae, Staphylinidae, Mollusca, industrial pollution, heavy metals, copper smelter, forest ecosystems, the Middle Urals.

ABSTRACT. We have investigated the changes in the soil macrofauna populations in a gradient of industrial pollution (heavy metals combined with sulfur dioxide) by Middle Ural copper smelter. Invertebrate abundance decreased strongly in highly polluted area: the number of spiders was reduced from 220 to 30 ind./m2, centipedes — from 240 to 30, Staphylinidae — from 145 to 55, Elateridae — from 85 to 25, and other hexapods — from 295 to 90 ind./m2. Abundant in the background areas earthworms (260 ind./m2, nearly 1000 ind./m2 including cocoons), Enchytraeidae (170 ind./m2) and Mollusca (300 ind./m2) disappeared completely. The decrease in abundance (or total disappearance) of various invertebrate taxa was likely induced by a combination of direct effects of toxicants and indirect influence through the deterioration of habitats. Industrial pollution leads to the transformation in the trophic structure of the communities. In the area of maximum pollution the proportion of saprotrophic groups (saprophagous and saprophytophagous) decreased from 65 to 10%, while the proportion of biotrophic (zoophagous and phytophagous) groups increased from 30 to 80%. In total, 8 species of earthworms, 48 species of spiders, 5 species of Opiliones, 8 species of Myriapoda, 54 species of Staphylinidae, 7 species of Elateridae and 11 species of Mollusca were revealed. For all taxa studied, the species richness decreased with increasing pollution. However, this decrease likely does not reflect the extinction of species per se, but rather the decrease in their abundance, which leads to the strong underestimation of species richness when using standard sampling effort. The total extinction can be confidently suggested for Oligochaeta and Mollusca, which are extremely sensitive to chemical contamination.

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