Terrestrial gastropod responses to an ecosystem-level calcium manipulation in a northern hardwood forest
The effects of acid deposition on soil calcium (Ca), and in turn on land snail populations, have been of heightened concern for several decades. We compiled a 10 year record (1997–2006) of gastropod abundance on two small watersheds at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, one of which was treated with a Ca addition in 1999. In years 3–7 post Ca addition, snail abundance in the treated watershed was 73% higher than in the reference area (p < 0.001); there was no significant difference in the 3 years prior to treatment, and no significant difference in slug abundance in any year. We analyzed relationships between snail density and microsite spatial variation in leaf-litter Ca concentration, litter-layer thickness, tree species composition, slope, dead wood, and forest-floor light level. We found that snail abundance was significantly correlated with litter Ca concentration (p < 0.001) and negatively correlated with the importance value of American beech (p = 0.05). Isotopic-tracer analysis indicated that, on average, 76% of Ca in snail shells 5 years post treatment was derived from the added Ca. However, interannual variation in snail numbers indicates that other factors beyond available Ca have a strong influence on snail abundance.
Earth Systems Research Center
Canadian Journal of Zoology
NRC Research Press
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Skeldon MA, Vadeboncoeur MA, Hamburg SP, Blum JD. 2007. Terrestrial gastropod responses to an ecosystem-level calcium manipulation in a northern hardwood forest. Canadian Journal of Zoology 85:994-1007
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