Aboveground herbivory shapes the biomass distribution and flux of soil invertebrates
SourcePLoS One, 3, 10, (2008), pp. 1-7, article e3573
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Background Living soil invertebrates provide a universal currency for quality that integrates physical and chemical variables with biogeography as the invertebrates reflect their habitat and most ecological changes occurring therein. The specific goal was the identification of “reference” states for soil sustainability and ecosystem functioning in grazed vs. ungrazed sites. Methodology/Principal Findings Bacterial cells were counted by fluorescent staining and combined direct microscopy and automatic image analysis; invertebrates (nematodes, mites, insects, oligochaetes) were sampled and their body size measured individually to allow allometric scaling. Numerical allometry analyses food webs by a direct comparison of weight averages of components and thus might characterize the detrital soil food webs of our 135 sites regardless of taxonomy. Sharp differences in the frequency distributions are shown. Overall higher biomasses of invertebrates occur in grasslands, and all larger soil organisms differed remarkably. Conclusions/Significance Strong statistical evidence supports a hypothesis explaining from an allometric perspective how the faunal biomass distribution and the energetic flux are affected by livestock, nutrient availability and land use. Our aim is to propose faunal biomass flux and biomass distribution as quantitative descriptors of soil community composition and function, and to illustrate the application of these allometric indicators to soil systems.
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