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Land-use and land-management change: relationships with earthworm and fungi communities and soil structural properties

Spurgeon, David J.; Keith, Aidan M.; Schmidt, Olaf; Lammertsma, Dennis R.; Faber, Jack H.. 2013 Land-use and land-management change: relationships with earthworm and fungi communities and soil structural properties. BMC Ecology, 13, 46. 13, pp. 10.1186/1472-6785-13-46

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Abstract/Summary

Background: Change in land use and management can impact massively on soil ecosystems. Ecosystem engineers and other functional biodiversity in soils can be influenced directly by such change and this in turn can affect key soil functions. Here, we employ meta-analysis to provide a quantitative assessment of the effects of changes in land use and land management across a range of successional/extensification transitions (conventional arable → no or reduced tillage → grassland → wooded land) on community metrics for two functionally important soil taxa, earthworms and fungi. An analysis of the relationships between community change and soil structural properties was also included. Results: Meta-analysis highlighted a consistent trend of increased earthworm and fungal community abundances and complexity following transitions to lower intensity and later successional land uses. The greatest changes were seen for early stage transitions, such as introduction of reduced tillage regimes and conversion to grassland from arable land. Not all changes, however, result in positive effects on the assessed community metrics. For example, whether woodland conversion positively or negatively affects community size and complexity depends on woodland type and, potentially, the changes in soil properties, such as pH, that may occur during conversion. Alterations in soil communities tended to facilitate subsequent changes in soil structure and hydrology. For example, increasing earthworm abundances and functional group composition were shown to be positively correlated with water infiltration rate (dependent on tillage regime and habitat characteristics); while positive changes in fungal biomass measures were positively associated with soil microaggregate stability. Conclusions: These findings raise the potential to manage landscapes to increase ecosystem service provision from soil biota in relation to regulation of soil structure and water flow.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1186/1472-6785-13-46
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity
CEH Sections: Acreman
Parr
ISSN: 1472-6785
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - Official URL link provides full text
Additional Keywords: meta analysis, earthworm, fungi, functional biodiversity, soil porosity, microaggregate stability
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Agriculture and Soil Science
Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 13 Jan 2014 15:01 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/504484

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