The relative importance of topography and vegetation in shaping local soil invertebrate communities is poorly understood. We investigated changes in the species and trait compositions of Collembola communities associated with different topography and forest types. Our study sites encompassed various topographies with different slope aspects and forest types; specifically, natural deciduous broad-leaved forests and deciduous coniferous plantations in Japan. The body length and edaphic adaptation score, which are representative of a certain life-form, were used as Collembola traits. Across a topographic gradient from south to north-facing slopes, the total biomass of Collembola was higher in dry plots than in humid plots, and the forest types did not affect either abundance, biomass, or species diversity. Variation partitioning analysis revealed that topography played an important role in determining species composition and functional traits, whereas forest types and spatial distance had minor roles. The responses of community weighted mean traits (CWMs) to environmental change were more pronounced than those of species composition. The CWM and functional diversity of body length were higher in the dry plots than in the humid plots. These changes in traits might be explained by food supply or habitat structure increasing large individuals via topography, rather than by physical stress filtering out intolerant small individuals. These results suggest that slope topography is an important determinant of the Collembola community structure in cool-temperate forest ecosystems.
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