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Carbon and nitrogen are supplied by a variety of sources in the desert food web; both vascular and non-vascular plants and cyanobacteria supply carbon, and cyanobacteria and plant-associated rhizosphere bacteria are sources of biological nitrogen fixation. The objective of this study was to compare the relative influence of vascular plants and biological soil crusts on desert soil nematode and protozoan abundance and community composition. In the first experiment, biological soil crusts were removed by physical trampling. Treatments with crust removed had fewer nematodes and a greater relative ratio of bacterivores to microphytophages than treatments with intact crust. However, protozoa composition was similar with...
Despite being recognized as essential to soil health, soil fauna often are afforded inadequate protection. In this paper, we discuss interpretations of this problem from a traditional economic perspective. We argue that the traditional economic framework can provide adequate soil fauna protection if market failures are corrected, and in particular, all relevant costs and benefits to society are accounted for. In turn, we describe some of the techniques economists use to value changes in natural resource services and environmental quality that are not otherwise valued in markets. We identify some of the challenges in applying these methods, their limitations, and provide examples relevant to soil faunal services....
Dryland ecosystems have long been considered to have a highly heterogeneous distribution of nutrients and soil biota, with greater concentrations of both in soils under plants relative to interspace soils. We examined the distribution of soil resources in two plant communities (dominated by either the shrub Coleogyne ramosissima or the grass Stipa hymenoides) at two locations. Interspace soils were covered either by early successional biological soil crusts (BSCs) or by later successional BSCs (dominated by nitrogen (N)-fixing cyanobacteria and lichens). For each of the 8 plant type�crust type�locations, we sampled the stem, dripline, and 3 interspace distances around each of 3 plants. Soil analyses revealed that...
* 1 Soils are one of the last great frontiers for biodiversity research and are home to an extraordinary range of microbial and animal groups. Biological activities in soils drive many of the key ecosystem processes that govern the global system, especially in the cycling of elements such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. * 2 We cannot currently make firm statements about the scale of biodiversity in soils, or about the roles played by soil organisms in the transformations of organic materials that underlie those cycles. The recent UK Soil Biodiversity Programme (SBP) has brought a unique concentration of researchers to bear on a single soil in Scotland, and has generated a large amount of data concerning biodiversity,...
Traditional models of soil organic matter decomposition predict that soil carbon pools with high chemical stability and large physical structure are more resistant against degradation than chemically labile and fine-grained material. We investigated whether soil fauna, by its direct and indirect effects on carbon turnover, would reinforce or counteract this general trend. The effects of four major faunal groups on carbon pools of differing recalcitrance were studied in an extensive microcosm experiment. Ninty-six microcosms were inoculated with nematodes, enchytraeids, collembola, and lumbricids in three densities, including combinations of groups. Bare agricultural soil and soil covered with maize litter were used...