Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title



Millipedes play an important part in ecosystem function. However, millipede ecology is understudied, and this is especially true for nutrient cycling and decomposition, where the effects of millipedes have rarely been documented. Quantification of millipedes’ ecological roles is important in the context of global change, because impacts on millipedes have the potential to impact ecosystem functions. Nitrogen cycling is one aspect of conspicuous global change: terrestrial ecosystems are receiving increased nitrogen from nitrogenous fertilizers as well as from fossil fuel combustion. Available nitrogen is possibly limiting to millipede populations, and millipedes affect N-mineralization by increasing decomposition rates and preferentially selecting litter and soil sources. However, neither the effects of nitrogen concentrations on millipedes nor the effects of millipedes on nitrogen transformations are well understood. To test the impacts that added nitrogen can have on millipede weight maintenance, there were four treatment groups, including ambient soil with and without millipedes and added-nitrate soil with and without millipedes (n=9). Added-nitrate soil was made by adding the equivalent of 10 kg/ha nitrate to the soil. Mesocosms were filled with 65 g of sieved soil and 1 g of shredded maple leaves. A nitrate-specific ion selective electrode was used biweekly to measure nitrate from subsamples of soil in individual mesocosms. The millipedes used in this experiment were Cherokia georgiana, collected from a mixed forest in Central Georgia. Based on previous studies, it appears that added nitrate may increase millipede weight maintenance and added nitrates also have the potential to alter millipede feeding behaviors.

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