Soil Fauna

The diversification of tropical pastures with legumes (trees) for increased forage and animal productivity has been advocated. Nevertheless, effects on soil quality and belowground biodiversity, and the implications for sustainable intensification remain poorly documented, particularly when cattle grazing is included in the study. We evaluated the impact of forage system diversification with herbaceous and woody legumes on soil properties and soil macrofauna communities and their spatial heterogeneity in a three-year-old field trial in Cauca Valley, Colombia.
Viticulture is a valuable sector worldwide with an extraordinary socio-economic impact in Spain. Numerous pests and diseases threaten vineyards, and their management primarily relies on the use of conventional agrochemicals. The current paradigm of sustainability pursues the implementation of ecologically sound strategies in vineyard ecosystems. The use of cover crops is arising as an alternative with numerous benefits, including favoring above-belowground biodiversity and the presence of beneficial soil organisms such as the entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs).
Urbanisation involves major changes in environmental conditions such as light, temperature, humidity and noise levels, but the effect of urbanisation on soil conditions and soil biodiversity has received less attention. The reported effects on species richness across a rural to urban landscapes are not unequivocal. Positive, negative and neutral effects have been found, but what is causing this ambiguity in the relationship between species richness and urbanisation is poorly understood.
Elucidating relationships between the soil food web, soil processes, and agroecosystem function is a critical step toward a more sustainable agriculture. Soil and crop management practices can alter these relationships, and their effects can persist even after imposing new management practices. In 2005, the Cornell Organic Grain Cropping Systems Experiment was established in central New York. Four cropping systems that varied in fertilizer inputs, tillage practices, and weed control were compared: High Fertility, Low Fertility, Enhanced Weed Management, Reduced Tillage.
Elsevier, Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Volume 136, September 2019
Soils host the vast majority of life on Earth including microorganisms and animals, and supporting all terrestrial vegetation. While soil organisms are pivotal for ecosystem functioning, the assemblages of different biota from a taxonomic and functional perspective, as well as how these different organisms interact, remains poorly known. We provide a brief overview of the taxonomic and functional diversity of all major groups of soil biota across different scales and organism sizes, ranging from viruses to prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
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 has long been established that the spatial scale of inquiry affects the ecological patterns that are revealed. However, studies of the ecological drivers underlying the assembly of soil animal communities rarely adopt a multi-scale perspective. Here, we quantified the distribution of oribatid richness along a chronosequence of temperate hardwood forests in a deglaciated region of eastern North America and analyzed variation in oribatid community structure at two grain sizes: 0.1 m2 and 900 m2, and two spatial extents: 20–150 m and 80–420 km.
This study assessed the carbon (C) budget and the C stocks in major compartments of the soil food web (bacteria, fungi, protists, nematodes, meso- and macrofauna) in an arable field with/without litter addition. The C stocks in the food web were more than three times higher in topsoil (0–10 cm) compared to subsoil (>40 cm). Microorganisms contained over 95% of food web C, with similar contributions of bacteria and fungi in topsoil. Litter addition did not alter C pools of soil biota after one growing season, except for the increase of fungi and fungal feeding nematodes in the topsoil.
Annelids (Lumbricidae and Enchytraeidae) and nematodes are common soil organisms and play important roles in organic matter decomposition, nutrient cycling and creation of soil structure and porosity. However, these three groups have rarely been studied together and only few studies exist for urban soils.