Can field populations of the enchytraeid, Cognettia sphagnetorum, adapt to increased drought stress?

Kristine Maraldo, Inger Kappel Schmidt, Claus Beier, Martin Holmstrup

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The ability to evolve increased drought tolerance in response to climate change was investigated in the enchytraeid, Cognettia sphagnetorum. Populations exposed to reduced precipitation or increased night time temperature for more than six years were collected in mixed Calluna/grass heathland at the Mols Laboratory, Denmark. The level of prolonged drought and increased temperature corresponded to a predicted climate change scenario and has been applied since 1999. In autumn 2005, enchytraeids were sampled in 3 cm intervals down to 9 cm depth and total number, biomass, diversity and soil organic matter were determined. The drought treatment resulted in a significant reduction of the density and biomass of enchytraeids, as well as changes in the species composition. In total, five different genera were found at the site in all three treatments (control, temperature and drought). C. sphagnetorum was the dominant species, especially in the upper 0-3 cm, and was clearly affected by the drought treatment. C. sphagnetorum from all plots were cultured in the laboratory to rear second or third generation adults. Results showed that populations of drought treated plots had not developed an increased drought resistance compared to populations of control or warming plots even after several years of a putative severe selection. Lack of adaptive potential in C. sphagnetorum suggests that more frequent periods with drought in the future will have a very strong negative influence on enchytraeid density, biomass and diversity. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalSoil Biology & Biochemistry
    Issue number7
    Pages (from-to)1765-1771
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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