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Radiocarbon analysis shows that the Collembola diet contains carbon from living plants.

Collembola seeds play an important role in the soil food web and thus the terrestrial carbon cycle. However, their eating habits remain elusive, especially because it is difficult to isolate the required amount from the soil. Currently, Japanese researchers are successfully applying new radiocarbon analysis to achieve this goal.Credit: Forest Products Research Institute Saori Fujii

Collembola are small hexapod invertebrates known to spring up with hints of foreign movement, and therefore get their unique name. They form an active part of the soil food web by occupying lower trophic levels, but little is known about their feeding habits. Normally, the feeding habits of soil fauna are closely related to the decomposition of litter and thus the terrestrial carbon cycle. Therefore, it is essential to investigate the eating habits and preferences of these subtle creatures.


But this kind of research is challenging.First, the small collembolan that lives in soil The matrix is ​​very difficult to observe and study. Second, isolating Collembola seeds from the remaining diverse soil organisms is equally cumbersome. Finally, it is also very difficult to achieve a significant dry mass of Collembola for subsequent chemical analysis.

Despite all these difficulties, a group of Japanese soil ecologists were able to apply radically new methods to determine the diet of Collembola. A study led by Dr. Saori Fujii, a senior researcher at the Tsukuba Forest and Forest Products Research Institute, used radiocarbon analysis, including the use of carbon-14 (14C), to determine the dietary age of isolated beetles.The results of the group’s survey are published as research articles. Biology letter..

Regarding the motive of the research, Dr. Fujii said, “Collembola belongs to a group of soil invertebrates that play a fundamental role in the decomposition of waste by consuming waste and microorganisms. Collembola is a potential prey. It plays an important role in soil food networks and determines nutrients. Accurate assessment of their diet, which is the carbon source for most soil animals, is essential to identify their function in the ecosystem. Therefore, great efforts have been made to identify and capture Collembola for research. ”

Therefore, the group’s findings confirmed that the Collembola diet was not “black and white.” Until date, Collembola have been considered primarily as decomposers that depend on detritus or dead organic matter. However, a 14C analysis of this study showed that the food consumed by Collembola was “younger” than any littermate. This indicates that Collembola depends more on living plants than on garbage as food. In addition, some Collembola predators show a younger carbon age than littermates, indicating a non-negligible effect of prey’s colemboran feeding habits on the entire soil food web. Interestingly, however, stable 15N isotope values ​​allow the edafic species of the beetle to obtain root-derived carbon by generally eating mycorrhiza (fungal association of the roots of some plants) rather than directly from the roots. I suggested that.

Regarding this point, Dr. Takashi Haraguchi, one of the principal investigators of this research and a member of the RIEAF-Osaka Biodiversity Research Center, said, “From the example of the beetle, the soil food web was found. It is derived only from the debris. It does not necessarily function as a “brown” food web. “

Overall, apart from identifying new ways in which researchers determine the feeding habits of mysterious soil invertebrates, this study presents the hidden biodiversity of organisms involved in littermate degradation. And agree that it will also help to decipher the black box associated with functional differentiation.

Dr. Ichiro Tayas of the Institute for Human Nature, co-author of this study, concludes that “our study also provides important clues as to what determines carbon sequestration and emissions for soil food webs.” increase.

This study provides the long-awaited unconventional tool to unravel the complexity of the warp and weft of the natural food web and delve into the mysterious life of deep-sea inhabitants.


Hydrological environment affects littermate carbon influx into soil organic carbon pools in Dongting Lake floodplains


For more information:
Radiocarbon dating by Saori Fujii et al. Reveals that most collembola depend on carbon from living plants. Biology letter (2021). DOI: 10.1098 / rsbl.2021.0353

Provided by Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute

Quote: According to Radiocarbon Analysis, the Springtail Diet is alive obtained on December 6, 2021 from https: //phys.org/news/2021-12-radiocarbon-analysis-springtail-diet-carbon.html. Contains carbon from plants (December 6, 2021)

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Radiocarbon analysis shows that the Collembola diet contains carbon from living plants.

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