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Soil macroinvertebrate communities: A world-wide assessment

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Macroinvertebrates comprise a highly diverse set of taxa with great potential as indicators of soil quality. Communities were sampled at 3,694 sites distributed world-wide. We aimed to analyse the patterns of abundance, composition and network characteristics and their relationships to latitude, mean annual temperature and rainfall, land cover, soil texture and agricultural practices. All soil macroinvertebrates: Haplotaxida; Coleoptera; Formicidae; Arachnida; Chilopoda; Diplopoda; Diptera; Isoptera; Isopoda; Homoptera; Hemiptera; Gastropoda; Blattaria; Orthoptera; Lepidoptera; Dermaptera; and “others”. Communities were separated into five clusters reflecting their densities and taxonomic richness. They were significantly influenced by climatic conditions, soil texture and vegetation cover. Abundance and diversity, highest in tropical forests (1,895 ± 234 individuals/m2) and savannahs (1,796 ± 72 individuals/m2), progressively decreased in tropical cropping systems (tree-associated crops, 1,358 ± 120 individuals/m2; pastures, 1,178 ± 154 individuals/m2; and annual crops, 867 ± 62 individuals/m2), temperate grasslands (529 ± 60 individuals/m2), forests (232 ± 20 individuals/m2) and annual crops (231 ± 24 individuals/m2) and temperate dry forests and shrubs (195 ± 11 individuals/m2). Agricultural management decreased overall abundance by ≤54% in tropical areas and 64% in temperate areas. Connectivity varied with taxa, with dominant positive connections in litter transformers and negative connections with ecosystem engineers and Arachnida. Connectivity and modularity were higher in communities with low abundance and taxonomic richness.

DOI:
https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13492
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