Ecosystem Engineer

Anthropogenic climate change is altering the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Agricultural systems are particularly vulnerable to climate change as they are frequently disturbed by intensified management practices. This also threatens belowground organisms that are responsible for providing crucial ecosystem functions and services, such as nutrient cycling and plant disease suppression. Amongst these organisms, earthworms are of particular importance as they can modulate the effects of climate change on soil organisms by modifying the biotic and abiotic soil conditions.
It is commonly acknowledged that ants improve the hydraulic properties of soils in which they build their nests. To date, however, most studies of such soil modifications have focused on one ant species and one type of ecosystem, rather than investigating how different ant species affect different types of land cover within the same landscape. Our study focused on modifications to water infiltration and surface texture of Haplic Luvisols by two ant species—one of them present only in a forest and the other present only in a pasture.