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Soil fauna feeding activity in temperate grassland soils increases with legume and grass species richness

Birkhofer, Klaus LU ; Diekötter, Tim; Boch, Steffen; Fischer, Markus; Müller, Jörg; Socher, Stephanie and Wolters, Volkmar (2011) In Soil Biology & Biochemistry 43(10). p.2200-2207
Abstract
Edaphic fauna contributes to important ecosystem functions in grassland soils such as decomposition and nutrient mineralization. Since this functional role is likely to be altered by global change and associated shifts in plant communities, a thorough understanding of large scale drivers on below-ground processes independent of regional differences in soil type or climate is essential. We investigated the relationship between abiotic (soil properties, management practices) and biotic (plant functional group

composition, vegetation characteristics, soil fauna abundance) predictors and feeding activity of soil fauna after accounting for sample year and study region. Our study was carried out over a period of two consecutive years in... (More)
Edaphic fauna contributes to important ecosystem functions in grassland soils such as decomposition and nutrient mineralization. Since this functional role is likely to be altered by global change and associated shifts in plant communities, a thorough understanding of large scale drivers on below-ground processes independent of regional differences in soil type or climate is essential. We investigated the relationship between abiotic (soil properties, management practices) and biotic (plant functional group

composition, vegetation characteristics, soil fauna abundance) predictors and feeding activity of soil fauna after accounting for sample year and study region. Our study was carried out over a period of two consecutive years in 92 agricultural grasslands in three regions of Germany, spanning a latitudinal gradient of more than 500 km. A structural equation model suggests that feeding activity of soil fauna as measured by the bait-lamina test was positively related to legume and grass species richness in both years. Most probably, a diverse vegetation promotes feeding activity of soil fauna via alterations of both microclimate and resource availability. Feeding activity of soil fauna also increased with earthworm biomass via a pathway over Collembola abundance. The effect of earthworms on the feeding activity in soil may be attributed to their important role as ecosystem engineers. As no additional effects of agricultural

management such as fertilization, livestock density or number of cuts on bait consumption were observed, our results suggest that the positive effect of legume and grass species richness on the feeding

activity in soil fauna is a general one that will not be overruled by regional differences in management or environmental conditions. We thus suggest that agri-environment schemes aiming at the protection of

belowground activity and associated ecosystem functions in temperate grasslands may generally focus on maintaining plant diversity, especially with regard to the potential effects of climate change on future vegetation structure. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Above-below ground interactions, Bait lamina, Biodiversity ecosystem function research, Decomposition, Plant functional groups, Soil fauna, Spatial scale
in
Soil Biology & Biochemistry
volume
43
issue
10
pages
2200 - 2207
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • scopus:80051670478
ISSN
0038-0717
DOI
10.1016/j.soilbio.2011.07.008
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
a481a8e1-715b-43a5-adb9-0432ef03670f (old id 2440388)
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http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-80051670478&partnerID=40&md5=f0f8a83cab8a6f0a56f0502c7120fef5
date added to LUP
2012-06-18 14:19:12
date last changed
2017-06-18 03:19:26
@article{a481a8e1-715b-43a5-adb9-0432ef03670f,
  abstract     = {Edaphic fauna contributes to important ecosystem functions in grassland soils such as decomposition and nutrient mineralization. Since this functional role is likely to be altered by global change and associated shifts in plant communities, a thorough understanding of large scale drivers on below-ground processes independent of regional differences in soil type or climate is essential. We investigated the relationship between abiotic (soil properties, management practices) and biotic (plant functional group<br/><br>
composition, vegetation characteristics, soil fauna abundance) predictors and feeding activity of soil fauna after accounting for sample year and study region. Our study was carried out over a period of two consecutive years in 92 agricultural grasslands in three regions of Germany, spanning a latitudinal gradient of more than 500 km. A structural equation model suggests that feeding activity of soil fauna as measured by the bait-lamina test was positively related to legume and grass species richness in both years. Most probably, a diverse vegetation promotes feeding activity of soil fauna via alterations of both microclimate and resource availability. Feeding activity of soil fauna also increased with earthworm biomass via a pathway over Collembola abundance. The effect of earthworms on the feeding activity in soil may be attributed to their important role as ecosystem engineers. As no additional effects of agricultural<br/><br>
management such as fertilization, livestock density or number of cuts on bait consumption were observed, our results suggest that the positive effect of legume and grass species richness on the feeding<br/><br>
activity in soil fauna is a general one that will not be overruled by regional differences in management or environmental conditions. We thus suggest that agri-environment schemes aiming at the protection of<br/><br>
belowground activity and associated ecosystem functions in temperate grasslands may generally focus on maintaining plant diversity, especially with regard to the potential effects of climate change on future vegetation structure.},
  author       = {Birkhofer, Klaus and Diekötter, Tim and Boch, Steffen and Fischer, Markus and Müller, Jörg and Socher, Stephanie and Wolters, Volkmar},
  issn         = {0038-0717},
  keyword      = {Above-below ground interactions,Bait lamina,Biodiversity ecosystem function research,Decomposition,Plant functional groups,Soil fauna,Spatial scale},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {10},
  pages        = {2200--2207},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Soil Biology & Biochemistry},
  title        = {Soil fauna feeding activity in temperate grassland soils increases with legume and grass species richness},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2011.07.008},
  volume       = {43},
  year         = {2011},
}