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Relating microarthropod diversity and abundance to fertility manipulations in temperate grassland.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2005
<mark>Journal</mark>Soil Biology and Biochemistry
Issue number9
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)1707-1717
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We aimed to identify patterns of diversity in a below-ground community of microarthropods (mites and Collembola) after 15 months of a nutrient (calcium and nitrogen) manipulation experiment, located at the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Soil Biodiversity Site in Scotland, UK. We found that microarthropod densities increased with elevated soil fertility, but we detected no concurrent change in the diversity of soil microarthropods (mites and Collembola combined). That microarthropod density increased concurrently with improvements in soil fertility and plant productivity suggests that soil microarthropod communities are predominately regulated by bottom-up forces, driven by increased energy transfer via plant inputs to soil, providing increased food resources for fauna. However, that we found no concurrent change in the diversity of soil microarthropods provides little support for the idea that the diversity of soil fauna is positively related to their population density, primary productivity or improvements in soil conditions resulting from nutrient manipulations. However, we did find that microarthropod communities of more fertile sites contained a greater proportion of predators suggesting that more energy was transferred to higher trophic levels under elevated soil fertility. Our findings suggest that unlike plant communities, soil faunal diversity may not be strongly regulated by competition in productive situations, since competitive exclusion might not occur due to increased predation. Whilst we conclude that soil microarthropod diversity at our study site has not been affected by the nutrient additions to date, in the longer term we predict that changes in community composition and diversity could arise, most likely through top-down regulation of the soil food web.