Background: Soil microarthropods are considered as major groups of soil fauna which facilitate the decomposition of organics in soil. In forests, the sustenance of nutrient pool is dependent on the density and diversity of these animals. Edaphic factors of habitat play vital role in species distribution of any region. Any changes in population structure of microarthropod may affect the ecosystem adversely. This study reports the seasonal variation of microarthropod population of the orders Collembola, Acari and Hymenoptera in five sampling zones, degraded (DF), dense mixed (DMF), open mixed (OMF), bamboo (BF) and wet land (WL) in a subtropical deciduous forest (Chandaka-Dampara) of Eastern India.
Results: Seven species of Collembola and four species each of Acari and Hymenoptera were identified. Ecological indices did not show noticeable species diversity in different sampling zones of the forest. Heatmap analysis indicated high relative abundance of Collembola in WL irrespective of season. The abundance of Acari was high in OMF and DF, Hymenoptera in DMF and OMF for dry and wet season respectively. Wet season indicated significantly higher microarthropod population irrespective of species. The correlation colour matrix and principal component analysis (PCA) showed significant positive correlation of arthropod population with soil moisture and organic carbon. Significant population variation in the animal population were observed between dry and wet seasons.
Conclusion: The forest floor was dominated by Collembola order of microarthropod species irrespective of sampling zone and season. Soil moisture and carbon contents in different seasons were found to be most sensitive growth regulators of microarthropod populations In Chandaka forest of Eastern India.