Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Terrestrial isopods Porcellio scaber and Oniscus asellus (Crustacea: Isopoda) increase bacterial abundance and modify microbial community structure in leaf litter microcosms: a short-term decomposition study.

Abstract

Invasive terrestrial isopods are likely to have altered leaf litter decomposition processes in North American forests, but the mechanisms underlying these alterations and the degree to which they differ among isopod species are poorly characterized. Using mixed-deciduous leaf litter microcosms, we quantified the effects of two common, invasive isopods (Oniscus asellus and Porcellio scaber) on short-term leaf litter decomposition and microbial community structure and function. Microcosms containing ground litter and a microbial inoculant were exposed to one of the two isopod species or no isopods for 21 days. Mass loss was then quantified as the change in litter dry mass after leaching, and microbial respiration was quantified as the mass of CO2 absorbed by soda lime. Litter leachates were plated on agar to quantify culturable bacterial and fungal abundance, and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of amplified leachate microbial DNA was used to characterize shifts in microbial community structure. Isopod presence increased litter mass loss by a modest ~ 6%, but did not affect litter microbial respiration. Bacterial abundance increased significantly in the presence of isopods, while fungal abundance was either unchanged or reduced. Overall litter microbial species richness was reduced by isopods, with O. asellus specifically reducing fungal abundance and diversity. Isopods modified the microbial community structure by suppressing four bacterial and one fungal species, while promoting growth of four other bacterial species (two unique to each isopod species) and two fungal species (one which was unique to O. asellus).