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Simulated nitrogen deposition effects on soil fauna from a semiarid Mediterranean ecosystem in central Spain

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Raúl Ochoa-Hueso
  • Iluminada Rocha
  • Carly Stevens
  • Esteban Manrique
  • María José Luciañez
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>01/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Biology and Fertility of Soils
Issue number1
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)191-196
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Nitrogen (N) deposition is a major threat to the semiarid Mediterranean ecosystems. We simulated a gradient of N deposition (0, 10, 20 and 50 kg N ha−1 year−1 + 6.4 kg N ha−1 year−1 ambient deposition) in a Mediterranean shrubland from central Spain. In autumn 2011 (after 4 years of experimental duration), soil cores were taken to extract the soil fauna. Acari (45.54%) and Collembola (44.00%) were the most represented taxonomical groups, and their abundance was negatively related to soil pH. Simulated N deposition had an impact on the total number of individuals in soil as well as on Collembola and Pauropoda abundance. Collembola abundance increased with N loads up to 20 kg N ha-1 year-1 and then decreased. This response was attributed to soil acidification (between 0 and 20 kg N ha-1 year-1) and increased soil ammonium (between 20 and 50 kg N ha-1 year-1). Pauropoda were favoured by additions of 50 kg N ha-1 year-1, and it was the only taxonomical group whose abundance was exclusively related to N deposition, suggesting their potential as bioindicators. Contrary to predictions, there was a negative relationship between soil faunal abundance and plant diversity. In conclusion, soil faunal communities from semiarid Mediterranean ecosystems in central Spain seem to be primarily influenced by soil chemistry (mainly pH) but are also susceptible to increased N deposition. The main drivers of change under increased N deposition scenarios seem to be soil acidification and increased ammonium in soils where nitrate is the dominant mineral N form.