Corticolous arthropods under climatic fluctuations: compensation is more important than migration


  • Andreas Prinzing

A. Prinzing (, Univ. of Nijmegen, Alterra Inst., Dept of Ecology and Environment, postbus 47, NL-6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands (present address: UMR-CNRS 6553-Ecobio, Univ. de Rennes 1, Campus de Beauliu, Bat. 14A, 263 Ave, du General Leclerc, CS 74205, F-35042 Rennes Cedex, France).


Animals can cope with fluctuating climates by physiological tolerance, tracking of climatic fluctuations (migration) and compensatory redistribution among (micro)habitats (compensation). Compensation is less demanding and thus more important than migration at large geographic scales. It is not clear however which strategy is more important at the small scale of a microhabitat landscape. I investigated how six arthropod species (Collembola, Oribatei, Psocoptera, Isopoda) respond to microclimatic fluctuations at the surface of exposed tree trunks. Across a nine-month period I characterized the microclimatic zonation of 299 trunks, and focally sampled the arthropods from different microhabitat types (different cryptogam species and bark crevices) within different microclimatic zones. I found that compensatory microhabitat-use was a general phenomenon. The distribution of all species across microhabitats was influenced significantly by ambient microclimate. Also, the arthropods’ microhabitat use changed throughout their ontogeny, and microhabitats were used even if they were rare. Most interestingly, the arthropods responded to microclimatic fluctuations primarily by redistribution among microhabitats and less by fluctuations of overall abundances across all microhabitats. Hence compensation was more important than migration. The animals moved for centimeters to decimeters rather than for decimeters to meters; they perceived and utilized their environment primarily at the finest, but also most complex scale. This has implications for the resilience of arthropod populations, their interactions with cryptogams and the turnover of species between macrohabitats.