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Ecophysiology of Invertebrates in Soil

The Section of Soil Fauna Ecology and Ecotoxicology has studied cold hardiness strategy in hygrophilic collembolans and earthworms which is not based on the well-known ability to supercool, but on a dehydration mechanism that enables the animal to adjust the body fluid melting point to the temperature of the surroundings. Also the drought tolerance of Collembola has been examined, and a mechanism is demonstrated by which these animals can adjust their osmotic pressure to remain active within the limits of water potentials tolerable to plants, and absorb water vapour from the soil atmosphere.

The Section has, through the PhD thesis of Stine Slotsbo, examined the Ecophysiology and life history of the slug, Arion lusitanicus. The slug is an invasive species, which has recently become established in many European countries and is considered a serious pest, both in agriculture and private gardens.

The PhD project contributed with detailed knowledge of the ecophysiology and life history traits of A. lusitanicus. A growth model that enables the prediction of individual slug growth under natural temperature scenarios was developed. It was shown how egg developmental time and hatchability are influenced by temperature and drought. Furthermore, the cold and drought tolerance limits of A. lusitanicus was revealed. The results are a valuable contribution to the development of population growth models to provide a more accurate forecasting of slug abundance as a tool for pest management.


Soil Fauna Ecology and Ecotoxicology
Aarhus Universitet
Institut for Bioscience
Vejlsøvej 25
8600 Silkeborg